49ers legend Joe Staley, now doing work for NBC Sports Bay Area, thinks Kyle Shanahan is serious with Jimmy Garoppolo, not Trey Lance, as the team’s starter.
San Francisco 49ers fans might be more bearish towards head coach Kyle Shanahan just under a third of the way through the 2021 season than any other point in his four-plus years as the team’s primary decision-maker.
Boasting a 2-3 record with a three-game losing streak, which now puts the Niners dead last again in the NFC West, it’s understandable why.
Yet a bit portion of the controversy is the quarterback “controversy” between the veteran, Jimmy Garoppolo, and the upstart rookie, Trey Lance, the latter getting the first NFL start of his career in the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the wake of Garoppolo suffering a calf injury the previous week.
This has led to a good deal of takes suggesting Lance, not Garoppolo, needs to be Shanahan’s starter from this point onward.
Especially considering how much practical on-field experience the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft needs and his importance for the team’s long-term future.
Shanahan has continued to insist there isn’t a competition, though, reinforcing the notion Garoppolo remains No. 1 on the depth chart, much to the dissatisfaction of many San Francisco fans everywhere.
Joe Staley thinks Kyle Shanahan, 49ers will continue with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter
Earlier this week, appearing on KNBR 680’s Papa & Lund Show, (h/t Marc Delucchi of Niners Nation) former 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, who’s now working as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, shed some additional light on this controversy but didn’t automatically take the side many fans are taking.
No, in contrast, Staley is of the mindset Shanahan will continue with Garoppolo as the team’s starter, electing to let Lance serve as a redshirt backup his rookie season:
"I think when you look at the quarterback situation, you know what you’re going to get out of Jimmy. He has the understanding of the offense, and I think he does probably give this team the best opportunity to consistently win games throughout the whole entire year because of the understanding of where to go with the football."
Staley’s comments on KNBR echo a lot of what Shanahan has said for much of the season. Garoppolo isn’t necessarily going to elevate the offense, and his 2021 numbers and percentages have generally mirrored what he’s done in the past.
Garoppolo is completing 66.1 percent of his passes, slightly lower than his career 67.3 mark.
Staley did admit, however, Lance could bring a dynamic Garoppolo simply doesn’t possess.
“The offense isn’t nearly, I don’t feel, as exciting [with Garoppolo], and the potential isn’t there for different layers to be added, as what Trey brings to the team,” Staley added.
You can listen to the entire interview below:
Staley and Shanahan have remained close since the left tackle’s retirement in 2020, and Shanahan reportedly wanted Staley to join his coaching staff this season. Instead, Staley took the more independent route towards becoming an analyst.
That does give him a bit more ability to speak freely on the matter, although it’s important to note Staley’s relationship with Shanahan could have a bearing, too.
Either way, it’s just one more piece of evidence that Shanahan and the Niners aren’t planning on making the switch from Garoppolo to Lance anytime soon.