John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan made this mess.
Now they’re going to lay in it.
The 49ers’ general manager and head coach had a top priority this offseason — move quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo off the team’s roster.
They failed. Training camp has started, and Garoppolo is still on the roster.
The incumbent starting quarterback was in the team facility on Tuesday. He might not be practicing with the team come Wednesday, but there’s little reason to think he will be anything other than a 49er anytime soon.
So much for a clean break, and a no-question transition.
It’s time for everyone to get comfortable with an uncomfortable situation.
Yes, the 49ers appear hellbent on entering the season with a $26 million backup quarterback. All while there are 26 million ways this strange, unfortunate experiment could backfire.
After all, there can’t be a single person involved with this scenario that likes that fact. We’ve reached a point of mutually assured disappointment.
Who knows — the fact that everyone hates this scenario might just be why it works.
Like it or not, so long as Garoppolo is on the Niners’ roster, everyone is going to have to follow the company line, which Shanahan laid out clearly on Tuesday:
“This is Trey’s team. We’re not going to mess around with that anymore. Jimmy understands that fully. He’s a big guy. Nothing against him. It’s a business decision,” Shanahan said.
The Niners’ brass is hoping they won’t have to keep making statements like that all season — that such truths will be obvious and implied.
Still, Shanahan and Lynch — who couldn’t negotiate a deal for Garoppolo with any other team — bargained with themselves in their press conference answers. They tried to downplay the strangeness of the quarterback quandary in a variety of ways. Perhaps some were even convincing.
But the subtext of their comments were impossible to miss. You can see where the cracks in the facade are — how delicate this situation is.
That’s probably why the Niners are hoping to keep Garoppolo out of sight and mind for both Lance and the media for the time being. Garoppolo will likely not practice with the team for a few weeks. He is still coming back from shoulder surgery, after all. It will, indeed, be Lance’s team.
“He does have a throwing program… there’s a protocol. He’ll be doing that on the side. We don’t plan on him practicing with the team,” Shanahan said of Garoppolo. “Hopefully we can figure out what’s best for both parties. ”
You can’t help but feel for Lance a bit. It was already a tricky spot to take over for Garoppolo. Now he has to take over for Garoppolo while Garoppolo is present.
The kid better perform well while he has the stage to himself, because once Garoppolo is out of his throwing protocols and is capable of practicing with the team, it would be essential not to have left any doubt about who the best quarterback is on the team.
Of course, the Niners’ brass still, somehow holds out hope — beautiful, naive hope — that they can trade Garoppolo. This, despite every team in the NFL telling the 49ers directly or through inaction that they are not interested in No. 10.
Think about this: Instead of trading for Garoppolo, the Cleveland Browns decided to firebomb whatever vestige of a reputation the organization once had by trading for Deshaun Watson and giving him a $230 million contract.
They chose to trade for and give a new, massive contract to the quarterback who was accused of sexual misconduct with 66 women between 2019 and 2021, according to the New York Times, instead of trading a forgettable draft pick for one year of Garoppolo — who already knows the Browns’ offense — at roughly $26 million.
No one is trading for Garoppolo. Not unless the 49ers pay for him to play for that new team. And that’s not going to happen.
As for cutting Garoppolo, who only has $1.4 million of this year’s contract guaranteed, Shanahan said that was out of the question too.
“We think Jimmy would have been traded if that surgery didn’t happen,” Shanahan said. “We also can’t just give one of the better quarterbacks in the league, just make them available for no reason to the whole world.”
And so you have it: Lance is the new No. 1 quarterback, but the old No. 1 isn’t going anywhere.
The 49ers will test just how well the kid performs under pressure before this season even kicks off. They’re going to see just how good of a teammate and how “big” of a “guy” Garoppolo is.
George Kittle was right when he said Tuesday that Shanahan’s emphatic comments wouldn’t mark the end of him — or any of his other teammates — being asked about whether Lance or Garoppolo should start.
Now, this is the optimism of the first day of camp talking, but there have unquestionably been crazier quarterback situations in Niners history, to be sure. And after going into a season with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard as the top quarterbacks not too long ago, having two capable options to start games seems like a winning scenario.
This might just work.
It might not.
But no matter what, leave Lance’s inexperience and Garoppolo’s ill-timed surgery out of this.
No matter how this strange situation plays out, Shanahan and Lynch are responsible.
And this is their mess.
Dieter Kurtenbach: The 49ers have a massive quarterback mess. There’s no resolution in sight. | Sports Source link Dieter Kurtenbach: The 49ers have a massive quarterback mess. There’s no resolution in sight. | Sports