Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers rookie Trey Lance will push starter Jimmy Garoppolo to be better

May 3, 2021 at 3:07 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are 24-9, including the playoffs, with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. The problem hasn't been a lack of confidence in Garoppolo as a player but in his lack of availability. The veteran quarterback has missed 23 games over the last three seasons due to injuries, and the team's record suffered because of it during two of those seasons.

That's what prompted the 49ers to look into drafting a quarterback and eventually trading up to select Trey Lance of North Dakota State. The always-forward-thinking Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch wanted to make sure they were setting the Niners up for success, not just for this season but for future seasons as well. That's why they held onto Garoppolo while drafting his successor.

"Being here, being the head coach for four years, and just seeing how hard it's been for us when he's gone down, and we haven't had him, we knew, regardless of what happened, we weren't going to go into this year like that," Shanahan told Rich Eisen during an interview today on the Rich Eisen Show. "For right or for wrong, that was the decision we decided."

"... I know Jimmy's healthy right now. I do believe the situation, just with the way Jimmy is and his personality, I do think this will make Jimmy better, having someone to push him, having someone to fire him up a little bit. I mean, Jimmy's a competitive dude.

"Any time, like a lot of players would have done, he could have called in and said, 'Hey, I get it. I want you guys to trade me or move me or whatever.' Jimmy hasn't done that at all. He wants to come in. He wants to compete. He's been on Zooms every day. I've talked to him a bunch, and I'm excited to get both of them in here together, I'm thinking in two weeks, when the rookies are allowed to be here."

Eisen asked Shanahan if the 49ers will head into training camp with a quarterback competition. Could Lance overtake Garoppolo as the team's starting quarterback?

"Jimmy's definitely our starter right now," Shanahan responded. "Right now, there isn't competition because I don't believe Trey would be in a position to compete. Jimmy is too good of a player, has too good of a grasp of our offense. He'll start out OTAs running, like he's done before, and he'll be the starting quarterback.

"I just see Trey coming in here, trying to learn everything, trying to learn his teammates, and we'll just see how it goes. I'm not going to sit here and say I'll never play a rookie quarterback. And I'm not going to say I will play him. That's kind of up to him. When he's ready to compete, that doesn't mean he tells me. That doesn't mean I tell him. Hey, we'll all see it. And I think it will start with me, but it will go to the coaches, it will go to the players.

"And guys know when a guy's ready to compete with a starter, and you kind of get that vibe. As soon as it's like that, I will let them compete. But I'm not really setting a date on it because I know how hard that will be."

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