The 49ers found their quarterback in the middle of the 2017 season, trading for Jimmy Garoppolo on Oct. 31.
The fact they waited a month to play him was a sign of coach Kyle Shanahan’s commitment to getting it right.
49ers CEO Jed York told Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com that Shanahan was hesitant to throw Garoppolo onto the field for a winless team until he was acclimated and ready.
“When we made the trade in the middle of the season, Kyle was probably the most conservative with it,” York said. “Everybody from Mandy Shanahan [Kyle’s wife] to all our fans were ready for him to start Day One.
“But we had to make sure that we did it the right way. And we didn’t do something just because it was going to get the fans fired up. We wanted to put Jimmy in the right situation to be successful.”
The 49ers would lose their first nine games of the 2017 season, but even when they traded for the then-Patriots backup quarterback, Shanahan told him he might not take a snap that season. The plan was to give him time, knowing they had the franchise tag in their pocket to control his rights for 2018, when they could hopefully create a more viable platform.
It was Week 13 when Shanahan finally relented, and Garoppolo won his final five starts, which led the 49ers to not need the tag, as York signed off on a five-year, $137.5 million contract.
“If you don’t have a quarterback who can win in big games and big moments, it’s really, really hard to get to this point,” York said. “And Jimmy, obviously, exceeded any expectations in those games that you could ever ask for a player coming into an organization.
“And he’s continued to improve, he’s continued to work, he’s continued to get better. If you don’t have a quarterback, to me, you just don’t have a chance. It was a must.”
They clearly felt like they had their guy, and that waiting was the right call.