Young dishes on Jimmy G' future as 49ers' starting QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 49ers are staring at what could be a seismic offseason. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will have several important decisions to make that will reshape the franchise heading into 2021.
They'll likely have to find a replacement for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who should get a head-coaching job this offseason and reportedly is a front-runner for the Detroit Lions' job. The 49ers also will have to rebuild their secondary and make a big decision about what their future at quarterback looks like.
Jimmy Garoppolo has been solid when healthy, but he has struggled to stay on the field during his time in San Francisco. After leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and berth in Super Bowl LIV last season, Garoppolo played in just six games this season as he battled high ankle sprains throughout the year.
The 49ers can move on from Garoppolo this offseason with little cap penalty. 49ers legend Steve Young believe the decision on Garoppolo's future will come down to Shanahan's comfort with Garoppolo as the trigger man for his offense.
"Jimmy is a very good football player and I think it's just going to be whether Jimmy is the guy that Kyle wants for the next five years," Young told ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "We're at a moment here where it's not like for another year or two but, 'Who do I want for the next five years, next eight years while I'm going to be coaching the Niners for a long time.' ... And I think it feels like there's this moment in time where those two need to sit down and figure out how much they trust each other and how much they really fit, and if they don't, can they conform, or is there something new that they can learn about each other that could help?"
The 49ers expected Garoppolo to make a leap in his second full season in Shanahan's offense. That didn't happen due to the injuries that kept Garoppolo on the sideline. When Garoppolo has been on the field for the 49ers, turnovers and inconsistent play have kept Shanahan from running the type of wide-open, explosive offense he wants the 49ers to have.
While Garoppolo has been sidelined since the 49ers' Week 8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Young beleives the quarterback must take the situation into his own hands and ask Shanahan what he needs to improve to keep his job as starting quarterback.
"If Kyle feels like he's seen it and knows it and now knows that it's not enough, there's no question of what he's going to do, he's going to go find someone because he's already made that decision," Young told Wagoner. "If he hasn't made that decision yet, is there something that Jimmy can do? If Kyle has come to the decision and he knows it and it's done, then it's done. But if it's not, my point for Jimmy is don't just sit around and wait for it. Go figure it out. Go press on it. Go find out what's really happening, what he can do different, how can he lean in? Don't let it just be."
When Shanahan and Lynch review the quarterback position this offseason, they have to survey the available options and determine if any of the realistic options are a better fit than Garoppolo. At 6-9, the 49ers likely won't be able to draft one of the top four quarterbacks in the draft class. Would they reach for a guy like Mac Jones in the middle of the first round? Or wait and draft Kyle Trask in Round 2?
Trading for Matthew Stafford should be an appealing option if he's made available by the Detroit Lions. Other than that, the options are limited. Would Mitchell Trubisky, Sam Darnold or Dwayne Haskins be a better signal-caller than Garoppolo?
When healthy, Garoppolo is a solid NFL starter on a relatively affordable contract. But if he can't stay healthy, then his $26.4 million salary cap hit in 2021 would become an issue for a 49ers team that has to rebuild part of its roster.
Big decisions await the 49ers this offseason, with Garoppolo's future at the top of the list.