Jimmy Garoppolo: Kyle Shanahan is losing the media on 49ers quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 with head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 with head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

It was inevitable in one way or another, but the relationship between Jimmy Garoppolo and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is now the media’s focal point.

There’s no single identifiable turning point when San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan finally made up his mind about his team’s starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, no longer being “the guy” to rotate a franchise around.

Perhaps it was in the 2020 playoff run where the Niners used their defense and strong run game to dominate both the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, asking Garoppolo to throw just 27 times during those two games. Or maybe it was Super Bowl LIV when Garoppolo missed a number of crucial throws, namely that overthrow in the fourth quarter intended for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, among others.

It could have been the injuries, too. Whatever the case, Shanahan wants to move on. He’s just not bluntly coming out and saying it.

Seth Wickersham’s new book highlights 49ers doubts about Jimmy Garoppolo

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, who also broke down Garoppolo’s role in the dissolution of the New England Patriots’ relationship between head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, has a book coming out on Oct. 12 called It’s Better to Be Feared.

And not surprisingly, per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, there’s quite a lot of detail surrounding Garoppolo again, this time during his San Francisco tenure and the early 2020 “interest” Shanahan and the 49ers had in Brady before the latter ultimately signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helping them win a Super Bowl last season.

From Wickersham, via Branch:

"The 49ers’ coaching staff had quiet doubts about Garoppolo, even before the Super Bowl, feeling that it took an inordinate amount of energy to get his head ready for game day and that he perhaps lacked Brady’s extreme drive for excellence. Some in the building felt that Shanahan was too hard on Garoppolo, causing him to play tentatively. The coaches liked Garoppolo personally — so did his teammates, enough to elect him captain — but Shanahan was open to the idea of an upgrade."

So far this season, Shanahan has regularly backed Garoppolo, even doing so in response to the book on a recent appearance on the Niners’ flagship station, KNBR 680, saying:

"No, it’s not accurate. I don’t know which coaches, or who they’re talking to, but lots of people have opinions. That’s not our opinion.I talked about that a ton last year. Of course we looked into Brady. There were lots of conversations but to hear that stuff in a book through other people two years later, it’s not worth me getting into much more than I did right there."

Kyle Shanahan’s actions regarding Jimmy Garoppolo speak louder than his words

Shanahan can say whatever he likes, and he certainly won’t be alone among head coaches who tell the media one thing while holding intentions close to the vest. It’s called “coachspeak,” for those who think Shanahan will be 100-percent honest all the time.

As much as Shanahan has backed Garoppolo, in 2019 all the way through 2020 to date, San Francisco’s offseason rumors and actions suggest something awfully different.

The 49ers were reportedly interested in acquiring now-Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold from the New York Jets last offseason. There was no shortage of rumors linking the Niners to other quarterbacks, too, especially Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans and even Aaron Rodgers of the Packers.

Related Story: Jimmy Garoppolo admits 49ers could trade him at any moment

Even if all those reports and rumors are clouded in offseason talking points and nothing more, the absolute kicker is Shanahan trading up to No. 3 overall in this year’s NFL Draft for the rights to select rookie quarterback Trey Lance.

If nothing else, that speaks volumes about how Shanahan feels about Garoppolo’s long-term prognosis.

Jimmy Garoppolo is forcing Kyle Shanahan, 49ers to get defensive with media

The minute San Francisco traded up to No. 3 overall in the draft, Shanahan’s clouded feelings on Garoppolo became clear. Shanahan wanted to move on, and there was no hiding or denying it any longer.

Of course, the favored story is what’s playing out now: Garoppolo remains the starter, while Lance is the project in the works. But the media, both local and national, are going to continue attacking that perceived wedge between Garoppolo and Shanahan.

Like on this Q&A media session after the 49ers’ Week 3 loss to Rodgers and the Packers:

"Media: If the offense is out of rhythm, early on, is there a worry that taking the starting quarterback out of game for a couple of snaps would sort of continue the problem, exacerbate the situation?Shanahan: No, there’s not a quarterback battle right now. We’re going with our starting quarterback I think he is playing very well. I’m happy that he is. So, Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early. If he ever is thrown into that, then I know Trey will deal with that and he’ll get better as it goes, but we have a luxury where we don’t have to do that yet to Trey or to our team. So, hopefully we won’t have to."

This isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Postgame pressers and books by ESPN writers are highlighting that.

Shanahan and the rest of the Niners had to know this was coming, too. Garoppolo sure did. And while he’s handled the challenges of being a “lame duck” in a difficult situation about as well as could possibly be expected, the context has ultimately forced Shanahan to cover up his offseason actions with his words.

The media has taken notice, too, and no amount of Jimmy G endorsements by Shanahan can change that.

And it probably won’t change until Shanahan makes the inevitable switch from Garoppolo to Lance. When that happens, though, is anyone’s guess.

Next. Jimmy Garoppolo's 5 best games with 49ers. dark