Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan on why it was time for 49ers to transition to Trey Lance; Analyst calls it an unnecessary risk

Aug 11, 2022 at 10:23 AM--

Mike Tannenbaum made his opinion on the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback situation very clear this week. The former NFL executive turned analyst was asked on ESPN's GetUp if the move from Jimmy Garoppolo, who enjoyed a lot of success in his four-and-a-half year run as the Niners' starting quarterback, to second-year quarterback Trey Lance is a risk.

"Yes, and it's an unnecessary one," Tannenbaum said bluntly. "You have a great quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, who over the last three years has taken your team to the Super Bowl and the [NFC] Championship Game. I love Trey Lance. I think his upside is compelling. But why would you risk not playing Jimmy Garoppolo, especially early, when you have a team that can win right now?

"When Jimmy Garoppolo plays, and I know it's not a team stat, but 70 percent of the time, they win. That matters to me. They average 28 points. That matters to me. He's been productive, in that system, with that team. So to me, I like Lance long-term, but short-term, I am playing Jimmy Garoppolo."

For 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, the time for the transition was right. After all, his team invested a lot in Lance, trading a haul of draft capital to move up to select the former North Dakota State quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch also had to consider the future. Even factoring in wide receiver Deebo Samuel's new contract extension, Garoppolo owns the highest average salary on the roster. At some point, that would hinder what the 49ers could do to maintain a competitive team.

"You've got to make tough decisions in this business," Shanahan explained this week on the I Am Athlete podcast. "And the more you learn about salary cap, the more you learn about how to keep a hold of your players ... I thought Jimmy played great in that Super Bowl year, but I also know how great of a team we had. And they were young. And it gets harder and harder to keep these guys.

"Going forward, we kind of saw how hard it would be to keep guys like Deebo, sign guys like Fred [Warner], like [George] Kittle. We know we're going to end up paying [Nick] Bosa a lot of money. So you look at all that stuff, and getting a guy on a rookie quarterback [contract] was a big part of that."

The 49ers have time with Bosa. His rookie contract runs through the upcoming season, and, as expected, the team exercised its fifth-year option on the talented pass rusher in April. In addition, stars like Samuel, Kittle, and Warner are signed through at least the 2025 season. That means four solid seasons of talent around Lance, creating a nice championship window for the Niners.

"And I love that we're giving a good team to Trey to where he doesn't have to do it on his own, just like I didn't believe Jimmy had to," Shanahan continued. "And you try to build a team to where it's not just about the quarterback. And when you get in the time where you can have a guy play like a top-five guy, which is so rare ... not many people get that. ... That stuff is tough to find. And when you do get that, yeah, you ride that forever.

"But the position is so tough that in the meantime, you always want to build that team to have a chance. And if you get the right guy behind center with the right team, they don't have to be one of the best of all time, but you definitely want them to have the ability to grow to try to always get there."

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