The San Francisco 49ers traded three first-round picks to secure the No. 3 overall selection in Thursday’s first round so that the club can select its quarterback of the future.
The move placed the Jimmy Garoppolo backers within the Niners locker room in a precarious position. Continue hyping Jimmy G’s ability, leaning on injuries as the reason he’s struggled, or pivot to supporting a potential rookie?
The line is easier to dance between ahead of the draft. Once the actual pick has a name and face officially attached, the questions about the Niners’ future at QB will coalesce.
George Kittle, one of Garoppolo’s most outspoken supporters, joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Wednesday and said he trusts head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch to improve the roster one way or another.
“Jimmy’s our quarterback, he has been, he’s led us to a bunch of wins, we haven’t won without him, his record speaks for itself,” Kittle said. “So like I said (previously), Kyle and John are doing whatever they can to make this team compete for a Super Bowl, and if they think it’s bringing another quarterback, another tight end, another fullback, another linebacker, whatever it is, they’re just trying to make this team better and more competitive and so I know the team trusts in them because they haven’t led us astray yet.”
We wouldn’t expect anything different from Kittle, who is friends with Jimmy G but almost assuredly will toe the company line once the draft is in the rearview.
In reality, Shanahan’s comments this week that the Niners felt they needed “a good starting quarterback this year and add that to our team” spell the end of any Garoppolo optimism.
The Niners are drafting a QB they believe can be more consistent than Jimmy G. Mac Jones and Trey Lance are the top two potential options. If Jones is the pick, as most speculate at this stage, he’s expected to be ready to start from Week 1. If it’s Lance, perhaps they keep Garoppolo around another year — an option that would likely include a reworked contract — if Shanahan believes the North Dakota State product needs grooming.
Depending on how the draft unfolds, Garoppolo may be traded in the coming days during the selection process, which would end all the questions about his place in San Francisco.
Once the draft is over and the cards have all been played, we’ll hear what Kittle and other Niners think of the rookie QB and the optimism about his future.
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