Whether or not you want to accept Silver's stand on the situation is up to you. The topic has created much debate among the fanbase, but it is a discussion for another day.
One thing was made clear this week. Jimmy Garoppolo, the quarterback Shanahan and company traded for in 2017, is unlikely to return in 2023. During the team's Wednesday end-of-season wrap-up press conference, the 49ers coach was asked if there was any chance of the veteran returning.
"No, I don't see any scenario of that," Shanahan responded.
The 49ers are moving on, and Garoppolo, a soon-to-be free agent, will likely relocate in March. Shanahan's comments shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The team has seemingly tried to move away from Garoppolo since 2020, likely due to a combination of recognizing the quarterback's limitations and worrying about his inability to stay healthy. Since joining the 49ers, Garoppolo has remained injury-free in just one season—2019. Surprisingly, that was the year in which the quarterback was returning from an ACL injury.
The 49ers flirted with the idea of adding Tom Brady after that season, despite Garoppolo and the 49ers coming off a Super Bowl appearance. Then, in 2021, the team traded a haul of draft capital to add what it hoped was Garoppolo's replacement—Trey Lance—after flirtations with the idea of adding someone like Matthew Stafford came up empty. Finally, last year, San Francisco tried desperately to trade Garoppolo but couldn't because the quarterback underwent offseason shoulder surgery.
Shanahan and company appear willing to make a clean break this offseason, despite lacking another healthy quarterback option. Garoppolo is recovering from the broken foot he suffered on December 4. Brock Purdy will likely miss six months due to a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow. Lance should return in time for organized team activities (OTAs) in May after sustaining a season-ending ankle injury on September 18.
The writing was on the wall. Garoppolo would not return in 2023. It would seem that nothing has changed, even with the injury concerns.
One future Hall of Fame offensive lineman, Joe Thomas, now an NFL Network analyst, doesn't blame the 49ers for wanting to move on from Garoppolo.
"Jimmy Garoppolo is just an injury-prone quarterback," Thomas told Silver. "That's why they wanted to move on from him in the first place."
Regardless, Garoppolo should land a handsome payday next month to be someone's undisputed starter. The quarterback has proven he can help an NFL team win football games.
Even though they are coming off serious injuries, the 49ers seem content with pushing forward with their two young prospects, Lance and Purdy. It doesn't sound like they will add another quarterback to compete for the starting job.
"I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with," Shanahan said. "So when you have that situation, you're not that eager to go looking around."
Although, the 49ers did admit they would like Lance to prove that he can remain healthy. After all, he was meant to be the replacement for their seemingly injury-prone veteran starter. The 22-year-old sustained finger and knee injuries during his rookie campaign before his ankle injury in 2022, which included a fibula fracture and ligament disruption.
"Trey had his issues, and Trey's had a rough go here the last couple of years," general manager John Lynch, a former NFL safety, told reporters on Wednesday. "He's obviously going to have to prove that he can stay healthy, but I know there was periods of my career early on where I struggled to stay healthy, then I went eight years without missing a snap. So that happens sometimes."
Shanahan, now famously, expressed discontent with a reporter asking if he had any qualms about his play calling placing 49ers quarterbacks in unnecessary risk, given the number of injuries they have endured.
"I think when you ask that question that way, I understand, but I think if you looked at the injuries, common sense would answer that question," Shanahan replied. "How have they gotten hurt? I'm sorry Josh got a concussion when he hit the ground, so that's the fourth one you're talking about. I'm sorry our quarterback (Purdy) got his elbow bent backward on a normal drop-back pass. I'm sorry, on a drop-back pass, someone rolled up on Jimmy's ankle. And then we have a dual-threat quarterback (Lance) who got hurt running the ball."
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