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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch: Kyle Shanahan’s master plan was to acquire Kirk Cousins; Jimmy Garoppolo had to prove himself

Mar 21, 2018 at 9:46 AM--

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The San Francisco 49ers landed an impressive quarterback in 2017 as the trade deadline neared. They finalized a trade with the New England Patriots that sent Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. He went on to start the 49ers' final five games of the season, won each of them, and was impressive while doing so.

Garoppolo's performance was impressive enough to earn him a five-year deal worth up to $137.5 million to become the 49ers' franchise quarterback. While head coach Kyle Shanahan has been impressed with Garoppolo since he first scouted the quarterback during his season with the Cleveland Browns, he wasn't initially part of the 49ers' master plan.

On Wednesday, 49ers general manager John Lynch joined Golic and Wingo on ESPN Radio and stated the master plan was always to eventually acquire Kirk Cousins to be the team's franchise quarterback. The trade for Garoppolo ended that hope for Shanahan and Cousins ultimately signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent.

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"We made the trade, but then there were some days that Kyle Shanahan was like in mourning because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually," Lynch said. "I was proud of Kyle because I think he knew this was the right thing for our franchise and he didn't hesitate."

"But even then, Jimmy had to really prove himself. Kyle, I think, was really smart. He didn't play him right away. He waited until he had some semblance of an understanding of our scheme. When he did put him in, he put him in a position to succeed. And then I would tell you that Jimmy really impressed Kyle to the point where he said, 'This is our guy.'"

In five starts and six game appearances with the 49ers last season, Garoppolo completed 120-of-178 pass attempts for 1,560 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions, a passer rating of 96.2, and even had a rushing touchdown. After starting the season with nine-straight losses and losing 10 of their first 11 games, Garoppolo led the 49ers to an undefeated December, and the team finished with a 6-10 record.

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"We're excited in that he really didn't have a thorough understanding of what we were asking him to do," Lynch continued. "He kind of piecemeal gameplans that we were putting together and so our thought process is if he can go through a complete offseason and really master this system, it can get even better.

"We've just got to keep adding talent around him, and we're very excited about his future."

Garoppolo may not have been in Shanahan's master plan, but that did not stop the 49ers' new regime from attempting to trade for him twice. The first was before the 2017 draft when the 49ers were quickly shot down. The second had the Patriots calling Lynch and company to see if there was still interest. That resulted in a trade which was completed on October 30, 2017, and Garoppolo was in Santa Clara the next day being introduced to the media.

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