Forget all the critics. Forget about the poor fourth quarter in the Super Bowl. Don’t listen to the rumors and suggestions that the 49ers might move on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
That’s the message from Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan.
In his season-ending news conference Thursday, Shanahan said Garoppolo is "one of the main reasons" the 49ers reached the Super Bowl, and pointed to the fact that in his first full season as a starter, Garoppolo led the team to a 13-3 regular season and two playoff wins.
"I think he had a hell of a first year truly playing the position, especially coming off an ACL (injury) where you have to fight through a ton as a quarterback, where your rhythm and everything is not there at the beginning of the year," Shanahan said. "For him to be like that and not let the pressure get to him, and to improve as the year went, I think that says a ton about Jimmy. I can’t tell you how much I loved coaching the guy as a player and as a person this year."
Garoppolo came into the NFL in 2014 and backed up Tom Brady in New England for 3 ½ seasons before being traded to San Francisco.
Before the start of this season, Garoppolo started just 10 NFL games. This season he started 19. His career record now as a starter is 21-5.
Garoppolo has a long-term deal in place with the 49ers, but some analysts have suggested the team should move on from him, by either releasing or trading him, thus saving as much as $22 million to $25 million annually over the next three years of that deal – giving the franchise salary-cap space to sign another quarterback or draft one to replace him.
But Shanahan said Thursday that his opinion and full support of Garoppolo is the same now as it was the day before the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"There’s no difference," Shanahan told reporters. "He was on his way close to a Super Bowl MVP and we all know we didn’t … make those plays at the end, but we made those plays all year, our whole team, that’s one of the reasons we were there.
"Whenever you don’t make those plays at the end of the game like that, first and foremost, the quarterback’s going to get attacked and then usually the play-caller. We understand that’s how it goes."
So, don’t expect Garoppolo to go anywhere this offseason. Shanahan stands by his man.