SF 49ers: Kyle Shanahan hints he’d be open to mobile quarterbacks
By Peter Panacy
SF 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters he’d consider a mobile quarterback, casting more doubt on Jimmy Garoppolo’s future.
There’s no lack of speculation surrounding whether or not the SF 49ers move on from their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, this offseason.
Yet the decision likely rests with one person, head coach Kyle Shanahan, who has tried to delicately walk the line between committing to Jimmy G in 2021 while being open to potential changes or upgrades at the position if they’re made available.
Shanahan has already told reporters he is expecting Garoppolo to be under center for San Francisco next year.
At the same time, however, Shanahan’s comments on Wednesday (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan) suggest he’d be open to something he hasn’t quite had much of before as a head coach or offensive coordinator.
A dual-threat quarterback.
None of the Niners’ starting QBs under Shanahan have been of this ilk. Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer in 2017, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard have all been more traditional pocket passers. The one signal-caller Shanahan truly wanted when taking over the position that year, now-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, also isn’t of the mobile variety.
Yet Shanahan seemed to suggest two things in his Wednesday press conference. He’d be open to a dual-threat playmaker, which are the obvious words. But between the lines, even going there is a hint he’s no longer fully committed to Jimmy G for the long run.
“Things change, people change,” Shanahan responded when asked about how he scouts quarterbacks. “You start to see you can win football games with any type of quarterback as long as they are good enough and you can be good enough in hundreds of different ways. So, I evaluate quarterbacks in terms of trying to find people who can have a chance to be one of those elite-type guys and there’s lots of different ways to do it.”
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whom Shanahan coordinated in 2015 and 2016, was also of the pocket-passer variety. Perhaps the only exception under Shanahan’s tutelage was quarterback Robert Griffin III back in Washington in 2012 and 2013.
“You can see now there’s plenty of different ways, so I don’t think that’ll ever change,” Shanahan added. “I don’t think you have one certain thing you’re looking for. You’re just trying to find a guy who is better than about 98-percent of the people on this planet or in this country and when you find that, you get him and you adjust to him.”
Kyle Shanahan leaves out Jimmy Garoppolo in comments about the SF 49ers long-term quarterback room
It’s no secret the Niners will be searching for quarterbacks this offseason. Beathard is an unrestricted free agent, while Mullens is of the restricted variety. Even if San Francisco was to retain Garoppolo next season, there will be a need to reinforce the depth behind him.
Yet the SF 49ers can get out from under Garoppolo’s 2021 contract and save over $24 million in much-needed salary cap space. That alone has fueled a lot of the discussion surrounding Jimmy G’s future with the team.
It’s more telling, however, Shanahan was silent about Garoppolo being the guy under center next year.
Not even a word about him.
True, it’s possible Shanahan is keeping his thoughts close to home and not revealing too much about the Niners’ intentions at the position, and that could float either way regarding Garoppolo’s future.
At the same time, though, a simple “Jimmy is our guy” quote from the head coach likely would have put to rest any wonder about whether or not Garoppolo would be the option moving forward.