Like many other coaches, Kyle Shanahan needs to watch the tapes before making any serious decisions.
The view from the shore, the crowd, the coach talking in his headset can lie.
But the eye never does in the sky.
And when Shanahan watched tapes of Jimmy Garoppolo’s worst performance of his NFL career on Sunday — continuing a general trend for quarterbacks from January 2020 — the 49ers head coach paused on a conference call on Monday to announce that the Garoppolo team Will be the starting quarterback. Next week on rookie Trey Lance.
“It’s not an open competition,” Shanahan said of the quarterback job.
But it should be open season on the head coach of the 49ers.
Especially when he said he would not consider playing his younger players – Lance included – for experience until the Niners are formally removed from playoff contention.
That would be “leave it on the season”, he said.
Funny, I’d suggest that Garoppolo, continuing to play the worst quarterback in the NFL this year, would be a good way to do that.
Shanahan went on to say that when he was with Washington in 2012, the team started 3-6 and it looked like the skies were falling.
That team finished 10–6 and NFC East won.
He failed to mention that he did this to a rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Now, there’s a practical reason why Garoppolo is the go-to starter of the week on the Lance — the rookie quarterback is still injured. It should change on Wednesday, but the decision has been taken.
And for Shanahan to put his flag aggressively with a quarterback who would throw that flag five yards down and then find a convenient excuse as to why it happened, is embarrassing.
Shanahan continued to dig a hole for himself on Monday by saying that losing in the NFL is a byproduct of the team.
This, of course, is counter to the now-o-so-quiet band of Jimmy G supporters, who think that the 49ers’ win with Garpaolo is a direct byproduct of being in the center of the record No.
Shanahan said he doesn’t see the quarterback as a starting pitcher.
If they aren’t starting pitchers, what are they? Third baseman?
Baseball may not be the best parallel, but if the last eight MVPs were all third basemen, I think the game would change to highlight that position.
There have been eight past NFL MVPs and 13 of the last 14 quarterbacks.
The league has never been more quarterback-focused than it is today. The best teams in NFC are led by Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott and Matt Stafford.
See a trend there?
Football is a team effort these days, when quarterbacks can’t create isolation.
And on Sunday, Carson Wentz – who’s bad! — was able to create separation on Garoppolo.
They were playing in the same conditions. I would say the team’s defense was similar.
Both running backs had exactly the same lines in the game.
But per EPA (expected points added) Wentz was able to be a positive player. Every snap Garoppolo took on Sunday hurt the Niners’ scoring chances (negative-0.39 EPA per play).
After Sunday’s game I wrote that there was something wrong with Shanahan. He is different – he seems defeated. It seems he is no longer interested in becoming the head coach of the 49ers.
Losing is hard for everyone, but Shanahan has been a far more losing coach than a winning coach at Santa Clara. We know how that works amidst the lost seasons. It is different.
There are some theories floating around the 10th grade lunch table that the NFL texting chain is about as to why and why he’s with Garoppolo now.
Perhaps Shanahan has soured on Lance – the quarterback won’t be the first youngster Shanahan has decided he doesn’t like anymore, talent be damned. No one knows where the Niners go from.
Or maybe it’s just acting out the 49ers not choosing Shanahan Mack Jones, who looks… well (I’m trying to be nice)… in New England, No. With 3 overall pickup. This concept has not been up to scrutiny, as Shanahan certainly seemed as though choosing Lance was his idea post-draft and there is no indication that Shanahan has lost control of the Niners personnel, as the team does. The disappointing 2021 draft is represented by the class.
Maybe Shanahan wants to do another job. It’s possible, but it’s messy, and there’s no guarantee the Niners will let him go, even if he’s lost every remaining game this season.
There’s only one theory that has a clear resolution, and it’s not the one that’s flattering Shanahan.
The idea is that Shanahan had no intention of playing the Lance this season, that they wanted to reunite Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City in 2017. Lance will sit and learn, playing Garoppolo and leading the Niners. The playoffs, after which San Francisco traded him for the same compensation as the second-round pick they had left for him, offset some of the cost of the trade to Lance.
The solution was beautiful, almost romantic. This too was pure fantasy.
Eventually, the Niners received no offer other than a Day 3 pick (and a conditional, late one at that) for Garoppolo before the draft.
And Lance sitting on the bench is a good idea, but why is it necessary for a quarterback that Shanahan said can work with the team’s current playbook? Remember, the Chiefs needed to change their entire playbook to fit Mahomes. Shanahan is not going to change for anyone now as he is in control of the team.
But, seriously, who thought this would work?
And yet, for a thinker like Shanahan, it may be too good to give up on this hypothetical concept. After years of fitting square pegs into round holes, this concept—a giant four-by-four and a quarter-inch drill hole—would be the one that broke.
So he’s talking Garoppolo to broadcasters on Fox and NBC. Maybe the former reaches out to another team’s GM or owner. Shanahan tells the same broadcasters about Lance’s redshirt because they won’t be providing any push-backs.
Get it done, and it’s going to be another lost season for the 49ers, and the Dolphins will reap the rewards of the high draft pick that comes with it.
And between now and the moment this team is eliminated — creating four losing seasons in five years — Shanahan is about to hit us in the head with that four-by-four.