On Tuesday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said that he expects quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to be the team’s starter in 2020. Although Shanahan’s words merit notice and discussion, here’s the reality: They ultimately mean nothing.
Rarely if ever will it make strategic sense to disclose intentions regarding a player’s future after a given season ends while that season is still happening. The book still has remaining chapters; even at 4-6, the 49ers could turn things around, Garoppolo could come back from his ankle injury, he could lead them into the postseason, and they could finish what they started in 2019.
That’s highly unlikely, but it’s not impossible. And if it would happen, Garoppolo surely would be back in 2021 as the team’s starting quarterback.
The more likely outcome entails the 49ers failing to make the playoffs and then exploring their options at multiple positions in 2021. Shanahan has hitched his wagon to Garoppolo, who has suffered too many injuries to be a true franchise quarterback. It may be time for Shanahan to unhitch said wagon, given that Garoppolo’s inability to play is putting too many losses on Shanahan’s permanent record.
Still, there’s no reason for Shanahan to tip his hand now. The full list of potentially available veteran quarterbacks for 2021 has yet to materialize. The 49ers don’t yet know, and won’t know, where they will be picking in the draft.
Then there’s the process of disengaging with Garoppolo, if it comes to that. Ideally, the 49ers would want to trade him. If it becomes generally accepted that they’ll be moving on from him, Garoppolo’s trade value drops.
So Shanahan is saying for now exactly what he has to say. And the only thing to say about it is that nothing he says now will matter when the offseason arrives.