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49ers need to add playmakers around Jimmy Garoppolo, says John Lynch

Jan 24, 2019 at 2:13 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers remain hopeful that Jimmy Garoppolo will be ready for the start of the 2019 season. They are also hoping their franchise quarterback will be available for an entire season. Garoppolo's 2018 campaign was cut short after he suffered a torn ACL during a Week 3 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs.

General manager John Lynch, who is in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl, joined NFL Network on Thursday as the South squad practiced. Andrew Siciliano asked Lynch about the need to continue adding playmakers around Garoppolo.

"No doubt about it," Lynch said. "That's what this league is all about. Who can get out there and who can make plays?

"We think we have something special in Jimmy. He's got to continue to develop. He's doing a tremendous job with his rehab. I was really proud of him.

"We all sat around and talked and said, 'Listen, you've got to get your knee and your body right, but we also have to find a way to grow from the neck up this year.' He's not a guy who's played a ton of football, so we're going to have to accelerate that growth and experience for him.

"Kyle and the coaching staff did a tremendous job coaching the team, but also, Jimmy is very important to our fortunes moving forward, so they spent a lot of time with him."

One potential playmaker the 49ers hope to have back is running back Jerick McKinnon, who has yet to take a regular-season snap with San Francisco. The 49ers signed him to a four-year deal worth up to $30 million last offseason. McKinnon looked set to be a big part of head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense until he, like Garoppolo, suffered a torn ACL.

"We've got to continue to add playmakers around [Garoppolo]," Lynch continued. "We've got some special playmakers. It's going to be nice to have Jerick McKinnon back. We spent a lot of money on him because we believed in him. (We will) put him out there with (George) Kittle and the guys, and the Marquise Goodwins, and continue to add to that."

Could Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown be a playmaker the 49ers target via a trade?

"I'm not allowed to talk about someone who's under contract," Shanahan said on Wednesday when asked about the four-time first-team All-Pro receiver and seven-time Pro Bowl selection. He did, however, add that the 49ers will "always explore everything."

There was a report this month that the Steelers are seeking a first-round draft pick in exchange for Brown with trade discussions expected to kick off at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

With representatives from all 32 NFL teams in Mobile this week, the Senior Bowl presents an opportunity for Pittsburgh to feel out the trade interest around the league. Pro Football Talk reported on Thursday that the Steelers aren't getting the type of offers they initially expected.

While teams can discuss trades with one another and shake hands on a deal, nothing can become official until the start of the new league year on March 13.

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