Steve Young on Trey Lance/Jimmy Garoppolo situation: “This is hairy stuff”


Once upon a time, the 49ers transitioned from Joe Montana to Steve Young. It was clunky, to say the least.

Now, the 49ers are clunking again, with Jimmy Garoppolo back from exile to serve as the No. 2 quarterback for a team he took to one Super Bowl and nearly to another.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News has spoken to Young about the current quarterback situation in San Francisco. He had a compelling opening comment.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” Young told Inman. “This is great. This is hairy stuff.”

Indeed it is. After the 49ers could find no takers for the last year of Garoppolo’s contract, Garoppolo ate more than $19 million in salary he wasn’t going to earn anyway to spend the season as the backup to Trey Lance. For as long as Lance stays healthy and doesn’t fail.

It’s a delicate situation, to be sure. Garoppolo, who recently admitted that he doesn’t like to ruffle feathers, apparently will internalize whatever discomfort he may be feeling. Last year, he was definitely feeling it; he told Adam Schein in the offseason that Garoppolo doesn’t know that he’d wish his 2021 experience on anyone.

“If Jimmy is a problem, it kind of speaks to the ability to do the job,” Young told Inman. “He doesn’t seem like it’s bugging him, and I would say, ‘Hallelujah,’ because if it does, we have a problem.”

But it can be a problem even without it bugging Garoppolo. The locker room loves him. The fans will love him once again, too, if Lance falters. And that continues to be the biggest problem that comes from keeping Garoppolo around. It puts more pressure on Lance.

“That’s what I would tell Trey,” Young told Inman. “It doesn’t matter. The job’s a job. You’ve got do it. If you don’t do it, you have to pay the price.”

Young emphasized his point in a more colorful way.

“The job, how do I put it, it’s like climbing Everest,” Young told Inman. “It’s for experts only. ‘Oh, Sir Edmund Hillary is sitting in the tent with me. I still have to climb Everest. It doesn’t matter.'”

But it does matter, because someone can decide to tell Sir Edmund Hillary to take over for Lance.

“In some ways, Jimmy being there, holds your own feet to the fire that can be productive,” Young told Inman in what seemed to be an incessant effort to characterize a possibly leaking glass as half full. “It depends how he takes in in. It seems he takes in productively, and it can be thought in of the positive.”

Young doesn’t see anything that happened this offseason as a positive for Garoppolo.

“Something’s not right,” Young told Inman. “He just had a referendum on him. Something either perceptually or really is not resonating. If I’m Jimmy, I take the opportunity to change whatever narrative teams have — words, whispers, scouts, whatever — right now, it’s not good, because no one wants him to start for them.”

In fairness to Garoppolo, he had shoulder surgery that took him out of play when teams were figuring out their potential starters for 2022. By the time August rolled around, teams had the guys they regarded as their best options. Garoppolo remains a fringe top-20 quarterback; he’s good enough to start somewhere. That’s the point Young is missing.

“If I’m him, I can’t keep playing the same music and thinking I’m getting a starting job somewhere,” Young told Inman. “This is a period of time he can start [to] change [the] narrative, whether it’s first guy in, last guy out, memorization, owning the data, processing. Whatever’s out there that’s keeping him from getting a starting job, he needs to change.”

While Garoppolo would be wise to start returning calls and texts, the shoulder surgery continues to be the main reason for his current predicament. That said, it will be very interesting to see whether, if a franchise loses a starting quarterback, that team calls the 49ers about a possible trade or simply opts to bump the backup into the No. 1 job.

For now, the real question is whether Lance can be sufficiently durable and successful to avoid having coach Kyle Shanahan throw his hands into the air and send Garoppolo back into the fray. Shanahan can insist all he wants that it’s Lance’s team.

Maybe Shanahan eventually will believe it. With Garoppolo sticking around after Lance struggled in the preseason to show that he’s ready to do the job, plenty of others don’t.

52 responses to “Steve Young on Trey Lance/Jimmy Garoppolo situation: “This is hairy stuff”

  1. The other thing is the 49ers start off with two absolute cupcakes, perhaps the worst two teams in the league. He must play great, it’s not like he’s going up against Buffalo or the Rams. So on the one hand it’s good for him but in reality he may have been better off starting off with a bad Ass team, and hopefully do well. One things for sure, Jimmy GQ will either take over mid year or be traded mid year. My prediction is the former.

  2. We’re that sure the minor shoulder surgery was the reason there was no interest in Jimmy G, it had nothing to do with the fact he was a clear liability in the playoffs?

  3. Steve Young, in stating, “If I’m Jimmy, I take the opportunity to change whatever narrative teams have…because no one wants him to start for them” is either Steve being kind, or he is not aware of the statement from a Tampa Bay Coach who shined a light on the possible sentiment of the NFL mindset of Jimmy. To a Bucs beat writer, the Tampa coach said, “If Jimmy could throw the deep ball, they’d have won two super bowls already.” Also during the session with Young, he detailed the whys behind the teams thought process on replacing Jimmy.

  4. kaepurnicus says:
    September 3, 2022 at 10:23 am
    The 49ers will destroy the Bears and put the league on notice.
    Which is to say practically any team in the league who would have been scheduled to play the Bears in week one is putting the league on notice. Come on, man!

    This schedule isn’t necessarily good for Lance. If he struggles or SF wins a low scoring game, the skeptics will come out early. It will be interesting to see how Shanahan game plans for Lance.

  5. Why do people always say the QB “took” the team to the super bowl? In 2019, Jimmy had 27 TDs, 13 INTs, and 3978 yards. It’s not like he put the team on his back. And he hasn’t come close to replicating those numbers over a full season in any of his other 7 years in the league.

  6. Whatever works. Seriously. Now it’s up to the coaching staff to figure it out and each QB to fill whatever role they’re given.

  7. I wish the niners would have just come out and said, we dont think Tre is ready yet after the beat down he took in game three. He was suppose to showcase his skills and what he has learned in the last two years. Instead he looked lost and confused and not ready for prime time.
    Of course they had to keep Jimmy because Tre screwed up all the plans.

  8. This is definitely a good story for the media and for fans. The desire to stir up drama is very alive. However, Steve Young was competing with Joe Montana at a completely different time. Montana was an established veteran fighting off the next generation Young. And it was the 80s into the 90s. A much more muscled and dog eat dog world. This is 2022 where athletes are coddled and nurtured. Trey Young is in his very first season as a starter. Jimmy G is a middle of the road QB – a winner, yes – but “non-confrontational” as noted on this site. If the 49ers win, none of the drama will matter. Even if people want it to.

  9. The 49ers created this “hairy” situation for themselves. I still think that Jimmy G will be their starting QB before too long.

  10. supercharger

    Lance will be a star you clown. How is your Madden football team Mr GM?! Kick rocks

  11. Oh brother! Jimmy Garapollo is not Edmund Hillary by any means. Hillary actually got to the mountain top.
    Garapollo is a good QB be he didn’t take the niners there, he was a part of it.

  12. Steve Young was replaced in a blowout of a Eagles vs 9ERS game when the Eagles we’re kicking the ish’ out of the 94′ 9ER team.

    After Young was benched he sat on sidelines furious trying to fight HC George Seifert. Berating him and even tried stealing another teammates helmet to get back on field after coaches took his original helmet away twice and teammates held him back from fighting his HC. Even telling Seifert to fight him after game in locker room.

    After that loss the 9ERS never lost again that season other then a meaningless week 16 game. Went on and when Superbowl.

    Steve Young was the John Stockton of the NFL. Alter boy looks, casted as some chump and disrespected at first glance by opponents, but the type of competitor come game time that would rip your heart out for his team to win. If anyone knows what it’s like to live up to expectations it’s Young. Especially living in Montana’s shadow

  13. Jimmy G did not eat $19 mil in salary to stay. He was never going to earn $25 mil from anyone (hence, no trade).

  14. Jimmy, if healthy, will be compensated well next off season. Always 5-7 QB hungry teams come off season.

  15. Who will Fields throw the ball to? Would a shut out by Ryans’ defense make a big enough statement for you?

  16. Saying “49ers fans will love him once again” is 100% revisionist history. 49ers fans hate Jimmy G. Every time there’s a big moment in a game, 49ers fans are praying he doesn’t throw a pick or overthrow an easy deep ball. People always point to the fact that the 49ers win with him and lose without him as proof that he’s good when in reality, it should be proof of how bad Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard are.

    Jimmy G is not a good QB, he’s middle of the road, he just happens to be significantly better than Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard, who are both terrible.

  17. When will we talk about the fact that Justin Fields is a much better prospect than Lance in literally every way? Experience, accuracy, speed, athleticism, natural throwing, etc.

    Seriously, what is one thing that Lance is better than Fields at? The eyeball test shows it’s not even close. Week 1 will be very interesting with the Niners in Chicago.

  18. The 9ers have three first round picks, a second round pick, and a third round pick invested in Lance and Garapollo, and they still don’t know if they have a quality starting QB. That gets most GM’s and Coaches fired. Were it not for Jimmy taking them to a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship game, there would be no margin for Lynch and Shanahan. Someone will get Jimmy next season, and knowing Jimmy, he’ll land on his feet, likely with Seattle, who will have over 46 mil in cap space in 2023. It will be interesting to see what happens in that division when that happens. If Seattle leapfrogs San Fran with Jimmy at QB, it’s going to be a very bad look for Lynch and Shanahan. They should have flipped Jimmy back to New England for a 2nd during the 2021 Draft and began the Trey Lance project sooner. They could have let Nick Mullins play the first half of the season and then baptised Lance in the second half. They’d be miles ahead with Lance now, and they’d have another 2nd round player on the roster at some other position, reducing the sting of giving up so much draft capital for Lance.

  19. I’m a 9ER fan and I said before draft Mac Jones is the pick that Shanahan wanted.
    Why…….. His accuracy, his pocket presence, his timing and anticipation, ball placement, overall QB IQ.

    Lance was picked because fans and media were upset and pushed an agenda that Jones wasn’t worthy of the 3rd pick.

    Now Shanahan has a Superbowl roster 4yrs in a row now. See’s the Superbowl window closing with this roster due to cap and age. Shanahan needed a QB that could deliver the ball with all Jones’s talent’s. Hence the rumor two weeks ago it was between Lance and Jones in draft.

    Shanahan was pushed into Lance by Media, Fans, and possibly front office. Hence shanahan distancing himself from Lance hence the Jones v Lance draft talk and Jimmy G who is disrespected by a portion of ESPN highlight watching fans that think Lance is the next Mahomes, Allen, Jackson, etc. Until he gets his mechanics fixed he will be inaccurate.

    I told everyone Lance would likely bust. I hope I’m wrong, I’m rooting for him no doubt but his lack of accuracy is alarming.

    Hypothetically 9ERS got a (roster) boat full of gas, food, beer,smokeable green spinach, “coke-a-cola”, and hot chicks trying to party but nobody that can tow the the boat to water. I honestly think Jimmy G could but Lance I doubt.

    All my fellow 9ER fans want to say Trey needs time. Yea Trey needs time but our Superbowl window is NOW!!!!!!! Not next year or 2yrs from now when Trey is finally ready and kittle, deebo, juice, Trent Williams, etc are retiring or in their 30’s.

    Player don’t care about next year. They care about this season. Every athlete has an expiration.

    -9ER FAN

  20. Kabasaman says: “Steve Young… Who cares what he thinks anyway? Is he part of San Fran’s ownership?”

    He is a 49ers legend and the last QB who led the team to win a Super Bowl and one of the most accurate QB in history. The man actually has a law degree and he thinks playing the quarterback position well is even harder. And the story of his backup role to Joe Montana is well documented so it stands to reason to ask what he thinks. Don’t you think?

  21. Another clueless, entitled spoiled brat. The dude made $25m last year, and he wouldn’t wish that on anyone? Roughly 99% of the entire human population would gladly trade places with him. What a tool.

  22. Had Shanahan just ran the football with Mostert in the final ten minutes of that SB with a ten point lead, all of these developments would have been academic …

  23. Steve doesn’t understand how Jimmy can have a “whatever happens is cool” kind of attitude.
    He probably thinks Jimmy should be trying to burn down the locker room to either start or go somewhere else.

  24. I could see the Bears upsetting the niners in Chicago.
    And I can also see Lance struggling and the fans calling for Jimmy.

    I don’t think it’s going to go well for Lance. Not good to have a former popular vet on the team as the backup QB.

    Steve is right, this is a hairy situation.

  25. Above all else, the 49er front office wants to get something for Jimmy (plus keep him away from Seattle). They’re waiting for a injury so they can trade him sometime during the season. In the meantime, he’s a good insurance policy if Trey Lance doesn’t work out.

  26. Jimmy will be the starter again by week 5 and finish out the season. I think they know Lance is not an NFL quarterback.

  27. Thats why Jimmy shouldnt have blinked. He should have forced Shanahan to release him and prove he could win without him. Jimmy is basically making 7 million to rehab his shoulder and hope he is called upon with a playoff at stake.

  28. Gotta have someone to take over when they figure out Lance ISN’T “the guy” about mid-season!

  29. cruzcowboy says:
    September 3, 2022 at 11:45 am
    Says the guy who couldnt handle a better QB on his team.
    Says the 3x SB Champion, SB MVP, 2x NFL MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, 7x Pro Bowl and Pro Football Hall of Famer.

  30. Problem for Jimmy G is that he’s decent but the kind of QB many teams are always looking to replace with someone better. Same with Baker Mayfield. Historical parallels include Andy Dalton and Kyle Orton. You can win a SB with that level of QB (Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson) but the best teams aren’t going to be happy with the 14th best NFL QB even after a career year.

  31. Richard Sherman who knows the players and the locker room better than Young begs to differ. These guys are not me me me

  32. Had Shanahan just ran the football with Mostert in the final ten minutes of that SB with a ten point lead, all of these developments would have been academic …


    Maybe if he ran more with Atlanta in the SB with that lead also …

  33. Steve Young is the absolute WORST analyst when it comes time to putting opinions into words. His descriptions are borderline moronic and he should be embarrassed.

  34. “clunky: awkwardly solid, heavy, and outdated.” “Provocative” word choice for the Montana-Young 49ers, the most winning team of the era. As for Lance, if he can’t handle the pressure of Jimmy looking over his shoulder or fans chanting “Jim-Jim,” then he can’t handle the pressure of a postseason 4th quarter either, so better for the 49ers to find that out sooner rather than later.

  35. tehgreatcornflorio says:
    September 3, 2022 at 10:47 am
    We’re that sure the minor shoulder surgery was the reason there was no interest in Jimmy G, it had nothing to do with the fact he was a clear liability in the playoffs?

    Meh took his team to a SB. Clear liabilities in the playoffs would be Lamar, Dak, Watson, Derek…. Get it?

  36. footballfan22 says:
    September 3, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Lance will be a star you clown


    More likely he will be Geno Smith 1.02

  37. “Meh took his team to a SB. ”

    Eight pass attempts (in the NFC championship game against the Packers) is not taking a team anywhere. It is handing the ball off and watching the defense dominate.

  38. jarahawk says:
    September 3, 2022 at 8:27 pm
    “Meh took his team to a SB. ”

    Eight pass attempts (in the NFC championship game against the Packers) is not taking a team anywhere. It is handing the ball off and watching the defense dominate

    Mai he did what it took to win the game….unlike Aaron

  39. What a wild gamble. It’s one thing to try to upgrade from an established starter to a guy that has shown some success in this league, like a Matt Stafford or even a Deshaun Watson, but to roll that dice on an unprovern draft pick and burn 3 first round picks in the process? I think they may have a gambling problem over there in San Francisco. Someone really ought to tell Lynch to call that phone number on the back of the next lottery ticket he buys.

  40. Montana was the real deal he won Superbowls with a roster no one remembers in 1981 and ’84. Young inherited a team loaded with talent and only won 1. Every real 49er fan knows who the real deal was.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.