Kyle Shanahan acknowledges ‘weird situation’ with 49ers QBs over the years

Aug 31, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 8:37 am

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers talks with Jimmy Garoppolo #10 prior to the gam...

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The San Francisco 49ers and Kyle Shanahan have been under scrutiny recently for their handling of the quarterback situation over the years, and they probably should be.

Since becoming the head coach of the 49ers in 2017, Shanahan has had six quarterbacks start under center for him, the most of any coach in that span. Most of it wasn’t by choice though, with former starter Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a season-ending ankle injury three games into the 2018 season. That would become a thread, with Jimmy G missing time in three of the next four years in San Francisco.

Then the 49ers turned Trey Lance, the third overall pick of the 2021 draft. Struggling with injuries & inconsistencies the entire time, the raw prospect never got his footing under him with an already successful team.

That saga finally reared its’ inevitable head last week, with the coach naming Sam Darnold as the 49ers’ backup to the new sensation Brock Purdy. Not willing to take a demotion, Lance assessed his options quickly and decided to seek a new opportunity elsewhere.

And that’s what happened, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys days later.

Despite looking forward to the Brock Purdy era, Shanahan still seems to be holding onto some frustration for the way it played out with his former QB prospect. In fact, he scoffed at the notion it’s been a “weird” scenario, instead using a synonym to lighten the tone of the statement.

But, he also did agree it was odd initially.

“I think anytime you trade up to the third pick in the draft and it doesn’t work out, that’s a weird situation, but that is the situation,” Kyle Shanahan said to the media Wednesday. “So that’s what happened. I don’t think it’s that weird. It’s unusual that it doesn’t work out, but I wouldn’t think that’s weird. I think that’s unusual.”

Similar, yet different to the 49ers.

This could also be because of what his former signal-callers have been saying recently.

Both Trey Lance & Jimmy Garoppolo are in more opportunist situations now, with the latter starting for the Las Vegas Raiders.

While both men have been with their new franchises for differing lengths of time, they both have similar remarks about the way it played out in San Francisco.

The veteran was more critical of his 49ers’ tenure than his successor.

Kyle Shanahan acknowledged both statements Wednesday. He broached Lance’s first, feeling positive about his landing spot in the NFL.

“I did see Trey. I was happy watching him actually while I was eating lunch with his press conference in Dallas, and Trey is as real as it gets and that’s how he [talked] in here. That’s how he is every day. So, it’s cool to see him handle that the right way and he did seem genuinely kind of happy and I feel he’s in a good position to move on and do better there,” Shanahan said.

But when asked about Garoppolo’s comments, he had a harsher tone.

“I try not to pay attention to outside of here. I try to deal with the people in here that I have to deal with,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Jimmy, his comments are his comments, I’m really not concerned about his comments.”

Hmm, maybe a little resentment is still harboring for the long-time pairing in SF.

Nevertheless, a new chapter has begun in the Bay Area, with Purdy manning the QB role. Shanahan is pleased with his young starter’s development, fully cleared from ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) surgery.

Kind of.

The Iowa State alum is on a planned pitch count this week for his arm, cutting his throws in half. That will hopefully allow Purdy to be at full strength come Week 1 of the regular season.

And in turn, have the 49ers operating at full strength.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch decided in 2020 that they needed a QB on a rookie-scale contract to maximize their team. Paying big money to several stars already, the signal-caller had to be at a value cost.

It hasn’t always been easy though. The 49ers have come close, advancing to Super Bowl LIV in 2020. Since then, bad luck after bad luck.

“The era of changing is, when we got here, we waited 10 weeks and made a trade for a quarterback, played five games and then we made him the highest-paid quarterback of all time, at the time. Then he played two of the next five years and did really good in those two years. His injuries for three of those five years were legit. It was rough on him, rough on us,” Kyle Shanahan explained.

Coming off a 2022 season with just enough bad luck to knock them out of the NFC Championship, the Red & Gold are eager to make this run count in 2023.

And they feel that Purdy is the new young man to lead them after Lance didn’t pan out.

“Then we made a move to go to a younger quarterback and that’s what we did. We thought he’d be ready in two years and he wasn’t. And now we have a different younger quarterback. So that’s the situation,” the coach said.

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