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49ers GM John Lynch responds to Ryan Clark’s criticism of Jimmy Garoppolo

Sep 27, 2019 at 2:28 PM

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You might remember Ryan Clark calling the San Francisco 49ers "pretenders" after the team started 2-0. At least part of that was because the former NFL safety turned ESPN analyst doesn't believe in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Said Clark: "Kyle Shanahan did a great job of scheming people open against the Cincinnati Bengals but [Garoppolo] was not sharp against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They won that game because Jameis Winston was just actually worse."

A week later, Garoppolo and the 49ers remain undefeated at 3-0, but that doesn't mean Clark is a believer yet. He joined KNBR on Friday and discussed the San Francisco quarterback.

Clark tried to downplay his earlier comments by explaining that the ESPN segment was called "Contenders or Pretenders," so he couldn't pick anything in the middle. Of course, he could have just failed to mention the 49ers altogether if he actually felt they were somewhere between the two options.

Clark went on to defend his criticism of Garoppolo.

"I made the decision, that after two games, Jimmy G, coming off a very short year, a one-game year (it was actually nearly three), an injury, playing the way he played in the preseason, and having played the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that I couldn't sell my soul on them being a contender," Clark said on the "Murph and Mac" show. "And what's crazy is, people act like that can't progress during the season. But after two games, absolutely not.

"I didn't think that this team was a team that could win the NFC Championship, and that's a contender to me.

"I went back and watched all the games for a third time, and there are some very good things happening, but there is still a ton to fix."

Clark was asked what he thinks about the 49ers now that they are 3-0, and coming off a hard-fought win over the winless Pittsburgh Steelers. The ESPN analyst was less than impressed, noting the two big plays against the 49ers defense and the five turnovers by the offense.

"But on the other side of that, you watch Kyle Shanahan and the way that he moves Jimmy G outside of the pocket, giving him one-read throws in the play-action in between the numbers," Clark continued. "Also, having opportunities to use George Kittle, a running game that I think is one of the tops in the league even if they don't necessarily have a top back.

"There are good things about this team, but I look at their schedule, I look at four of those games may come down to who is a better quarterback; Jimmy G, Russell Wilson, and Jared Goff. And right now, my history lies with those (last two) guys."

Clark went on to say he believes Garoppolo will develop into a quarterback like former Dallas Cowboy, Tony Romo, and even mistakenly called Garoppolo "Jimmy Romo" before correcting himself.

"I thought Tony Romo was a very good player," Clark explained. "He was never a guy who was in the top tier of quarterbacks but always on the cusp and made really good plays. If he gets to there, then this is the team that could contend with the way it is constructed, and with the great coaching from Kyle Shanahan."

49ers general manager John Lynch joined KNBR after Clark, was told of the analyst's comments, and defended his quarterback.

"I think we're fortunate to have him. I know we are," Lynch said. "I'll tell you what, the other day (against the Steelers), I think it showed another layer of Jimmy. They clearly came in with a game plan. Pittsburgh had their proverbial backs against the wall, 0-2. I know their coach very well. […] I knew we were going to get their best shot, and the way they tried to come after us is they brought everything.

"So they were coming after Jimmy. But what spoke volumes to me, and I think to our team, it should to our fans, the toughness and the way he hung in there. They kept coming, and he kept standing in there, taking blows, and delivering darts. It was awesome.

"I think it showed another layer of who this guy is, and he obviously can make every throw. […] There are just some throws that he can make that other people in this world can't so we're fortunate to have him. I think he's getting better each and every week.

"Kyle coaches hard, challenges him, and Jimmy kind of embraces that. Jimmy was a linebacker growing up, and I think he plays like that, and I think he acts like that, and I love that about him."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Clark below.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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