General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – August 30, 2022
San Francisco 49ers
General manager John Lynch: “It’s John, I’m here with [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan]. We’ve got a lot going on today trying to get to our 53, so we’ll be relatively quick and keep it to questions about [QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo], just because for strategic reasons with our roster. So I’ll just start by saying, yesterday was a really good day for this organization. It was because of our belief in our team, as it’s currently constructed, that we wanted to add another piece and it was from in-house with Jimmy and we’re really pleased that we were able to do it. It took everyone’s cooperation. It took a lot of patience and we feel that was rewarded. With that, we’ll open it up to questions and go ahead.”
Maybe you could start by taking us through the timeline. It seems like it all happened relatively recently and relatively quickly, is that right?
JL: “Yeah, Kyle and I always talk about the direction of our team and this situation with Jimmy has been going on for some time. I think we’ve been consistent with a player of his caliber, you don’t just allow him to walk and then other things complicated as we’ve talked about a lot with his shoulder surgery. And so that never materialized, obviously there were going to be some deadlines, but Kyle and I just started floating the idea probably a month ago. What if we kept them here in a backup capacity and at some point, we shared that with Jimmy. It was important for Kyle to let [QB] Trey [Lance] know that that may be a possibility. And I think that was the right thing to do, but the crux of the matter is this wasn’t going to happen. And I understand it completely from Jimmy’s side, he had his current contract and they were going to exhaust every opportunity. His agents, Carter Chow and Don Yee, have been doing this a long time and probably rightly so. I remember at one conversation, think if this were your son, you’d wait for every opportunity to collect that whole salary. And the way you do that is a lot can happen and so they waited it out. We waited out, but we had been in communication and then, it kind of came to fruition yesterday morning and it was finished slightly after we got off the practice field. That’s the timeline.”
I guess what I don’t understand, obviously this makes the team better, the quarterback room better, but if there was any chance of Jimmy remaining with the club, why wasn’t he in meetings and why was he not out there on the practice field to get him best prepared for the regular season?
Head coach Kyle Shanahan: “I think that was because, the chances were, to me, it seemed slim to none, just with the possibility of that happening. I told Jimmy, he came in here the first week of training camp, like I told you guys, we would talk. We talked regularly because he was up here, he wasn’t in meetings or practice, but I remember the first week of training camp me saying to Jimmy like, ‘Hey, if you don’t like any of these opportunities, if you don’t go to the place you want, you can’t get the contract that you want, we would love to have you here as a backup in a backup role. I want you to know that we feel that way, but I also think there’s no way you’re not going to get something as this goes throughout training camp.’ And Jimmy agreed with that. And so we waited throughout all training camp and then as I think as he saw the other situations out there and I think, to me, it seems like everyone was just waiting for us to cut him before that so they could see how much they could get him for. But once the last Saturday preseason game happened and no one got injured, then Jimmy thought this was his best situation that he liked. And that’s why we were so pumped, because it’s obviously a better situation for the Niners. We love getting Jimmy back, but to have him there earlier in camp wasn’t an option. We weren’t going to put him out there in practice for his sake and for our sake, he was on a $24 million contract and he was going to go somewhere else, but none of that came into fruition, which we would’ve ended up having to let him go under that current deal. That wasn’t an option, but we were always clear to Jimmy that him salary cap-wise in a backup role and supporting Trey in that and if that worked for him, that was a no brainer for us. We just didn’t think the chances of that were going to happen. And it ended up being that way and so, when it was all said and done, even though it was pretty shocking to us, we thought it was a win-win for both sides.”
Kyle at the beginning of camp you said this was absolutely Trey’s team and that you didn’t want to mess anything up with that. Does this change that at all?
KS: “Not at all. That’s why Trey is our starting quarterback. That’s why Jimmy wasn’t an option unless he came in as a backup role. And that didn’t become an option until it was clear that, at least so far, no one was giving him the exact opportunity. Yeah, this doesn’t change anything and I just feel it makes us a much better team and doesn’t hurt our cap, like it would’ve.”
What were your conversations with Trey like and how did he kind of take it in when this became official?
KS: “Trey was great. There were no problems with it at all. I told him the exact same things that I told Jimmy. The option of bringing Jimmy here, that it had to be in a backup type deal, which Jimmy knew that was his option and that was the only option. And we told that to Trey also. Trey and Jimmy have a great relationship. Trey actually likes having Jimmy in the building and Trey was very grateful to how Jimmy was to him last year. And we feel very strongly from the two people that Jimmy will give that back to Trey this year. He’ll do for Trey, what Jimmy did for him in the year before.”
Can you talk about Jimmy’s readiness, whether you had to put him through a workout whether you just stole glances at him on the side field? And the whole symbolic thing of him not getting a playbook, I’m guessing he knows the playbook better than almost anybody on the team, so can you just speak to his readiness?
KS: “Yeah, we have zero worries about him not having a playbook. I don’t have one either. We have zero worries about that. Putting him through a workout, that’s what he goes through every single day. He goes through that. He’s been out here. He’s been throwing with players at times, our rehab players, he’s been doing everything. There are quarterbacks I’ve seen signed off the couch. Go look at [Former NFL QB] Josh McCown, guys have been signed off the couch in Week 10 and come in and play for people, so that’s not at all our case at all. Jimmy’s been here, he’s been rehabbing, he’s in great shape. He’s ready to go. Of course, you would love for your backup quarterback to get reps in training camp, but that was not an option at the time at all. This wasn’t an option until I think Jimmy saw all the other situations and once that final preseason game ended. I’m glad that what he thought was the best option for him was a great option for us.”
JL: “The last thing I’d add on his readiness is that, while doctors cleared him with no restrictions, there was the added caveat that, ‘Hey, it would be a smart thing to really build him up.’ And this allowed him to do that and kind of not be rushed. On the field, sometimes stuff just happens and so it was more of a controlled environment. I think Jimmy felt good about that as did we. And I think he’s passed the end of that, that ramp up. I think that leaves him in really good position. Jimmy’s played a lot of football and so we believe he’s ready.”
KS: “And not to mention, we didn’t think it was going to end up this way. We wanted to give Trey a ton of reps. And then we wanted to find out about [QB] Nate [Sudfeld] and [QB] Brock [Purdy] also. And we wanted to do that because we thought that’s how it was going to be. And we thought there was no way that someone in the league wouldn’t come with a better opportunity. One that Jimmy thought was a better opportunity and fortunately for us, they didn’t. And I’m very glad that we got all those other guys the reps that really helped those guys. It helped us learn a lot about those guys too. And now we got a guy coming in here that we know a lot about. He knows a lot about us. Our team knows a lot about him and I think that makes us very excited. It makes our team excited.”
JL: “You can get your Twitter thumbs ready. First one wins. Brock has earned his way on our roster, so he’ll be on the roster as well, on the 53.”
Just to be clear, will Jimmy Garoppolo be the number two quarterback on the depth chart Week One in Chicago?
You’ve talked about the benefits of doing this, which are clear. It does invite drama. You do have Trey Lance who’s unproven. Kyle you’ve talked about inevitably there’s going to be bumps in the road and growing pains. Not that we would ever add to the drama, but there’s going to be a three interception game maybe, a bad loss. I assume you guys talked about the possible effect on Trey. And if that’s the case, where did you land on that?
KS: “I just think that’s the reality of that position in this job. I don’t think there was going to be any less drama. When a quarterback has a bad game and has a three-pick game or loses the game that’s coming Monday morning and during the game regardless, and it’s going to last an entire week until they play again. And that’s why I don’t know how anyone can be successful in this business if they get caught up in that stuff. Yeah, that’s part of our fan base and why our sport’s so popular, but I don’t believe that that stuff has an effect on whether a guy succeeds or not. I think it’s what he does in here and what he does on the field. Jimmy dealt with that from the drama, as you say, outside of the building, he dealt with that every single game last year because we drafted a young guy. So every time we lost, he heard it, it was from the narrative and everybody because that’s the position, it’s the quarterback’s fault. And Jimmy had to deal with that for a long time. I don’t think that affected us last year in that case. And I think we persevered through a lot of stuff and just tried to do what was best on the field. And I don’t see any difference this year. We feel very strongly giving the keys to Trey, we felt that at the end of last year. We were really excited in what we thought that could do for our team as a whole and we’re excited about everything he’s done and all these opportunities he’s gotten throughout this offseason. And I can’t wait to get him started on our team in Week One. And having Jimmy there as a backup makes us feel really good, because we have a starting quarterback as a backup. The rest of the league had a chance to get him and I just so feel so fortunate that he’s still here in that case. And in no way does that hurt our team. It’s only helped our team.”
Did the injuries that you had with the quarterbacks last year affect this move at all?
KS: “Injuries affect every move, that’s why you always want backups at a position, but that’s very hard to do. Salary cap wise, you can’t just always have that. And credit to Brock, how good Brock played in this preseason. I thought he was going to be on our practice squad, because we were real happy with Nate, but Brock won that job and we were going to go into the year with him as the number two. And we were good with that, because that’s what he earned. But then for Jimmy to be available and to know that we could have Jimmy with that experience and what he’s done in the past come in as a number two. I don’t think we’ve gone through a year yet here where the quarterback has played in every single game. Maybe in ’19. Yeah, ‘19 was the only year. So whoever that backup is, is a huge deal and we were excited to go with Brock, but to have a veteran come through like Jimmy, who has proven himself in this league, how good of a quarterback he is. I can’t think of a better situation.”
You’ve mentioned that last year was a quarterback competition in some ways, isn’t this naturally because of the NFL and other quarterback competitions, just the way it works and maybe you’re looking to push Trey a little bit with this?
KS: “I mean competition always pushes people. I don’t think Trey needs much pushing. This wasn’t anything like, ‘Hey, our team has to get this or we have to do this for Trey.’ This was, ‘Oh my God, Jimmy Garoppolo is available as a backup quarterback for us.’ That makes sense for him and it makes sense for us. What else is there to think about? So I don’t really put it into any other situation, except we never believed this ever possibly could have happened. There are 32 starting quarterbacks in this league and we believe we have two of them now and that’s really rare to have him in this situation. And that’s why we didn’t have him in meetings. That’s why we didn’t put him out at practice. Because we nor Jimmy or really probably anyone else in the league believed that was how the outcome was going to be, but it ended up being that way and we feel fortunate that it did.”
Isn’t there a difference between Jimmy Garoppolo having unproven Trey Lance behind him and Trey Lance now having a guy in Jimmy Garoppolo that’s gone to a Super Bowl and an NFC Championship Game looking over his shoulder?
KS: “In what aspect?’
Well, Trey was less of a threat to Jimmy Garoppolo last year than Jimmy Garoppolo is to Trey Lance right now considering all Jimmy’s accomplished in San Francisco.
KS: “I don’t know, that’s not what it felt like from the outside every single game. Every time that Jimmy had a bad pass, every single game we lost, I didn’t think that’s how anybody handled that. We were good in the building here and nothing will change now. I don’t see any difference. I think the quarterback position is really tough and no matter what, if you don’t win games that stuff’s going to come. And yeah, if you have a guy on the bench who’s done it, yeah, that’s what the narrative’s going to be to put him in. If you have a rookie who hasn’t done it before, the narrative’s going to be to put the rookie in and see what you got. If you got a guy who’s never played before, usually the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy. No, I don’t see a difference. I see different stories, but I see the same result. When you don’t play good in this league at quarterback or you don’t win games, something’s coming, it’s all pretty much at the same level. It’s just, what’s the obvious thing that they’re going to choose.”
You said you were surprised that somebody else in the league didn’t pick Jimmy up. Do you think a big part of it was the shoulder surgery and second, do you know if he got offers and it just didn’t feel like they were good enough for him?
KS: “I think back, whenever that was – I don’t know whether it was March or April or whatever, I think the shoulder surgery ended the possibility of trading him at that time. I think that for sure. And then I think everyone was just kind of in a wait and see approach, but there were so many random quarterbacks available at that time that the musical chairs kind of went out for the obvious places that would’ve traded. And then it didn’t seem realistic that he would sign here in this situation, so I think a lot of teams were just hoping that it would fall in their lap for an easier situation. And it didn’t. And so I think this is why it transpired that way.”
Will Jimmy be at practice on Thursday and just wondering, did you guys need to mend the relationship at all?
“No, there was no relationship to mend. Since we made the trade to move up in the draft and we had to tell Jimmy to every day I’ve had since with him until every day he’s been out here, he’s not in our meetings, but he has been in our building. I’ve seen him a ton, so there’s been no relationship to mend. I think we all understand how hard this sport is. And we also, I’m saying the people in here like with the players, they understand how hard it is. They understand the business part of it. And when you explain things to people, they aren’t always happy with everything, but people can respect and understand what the situation is.”
By restructuring Jimmy’s deal, do you think a new contract makes him more enticing for another team to come calling via trade at some point this year? And assuming, let’s say that he does remain on the roster what are some ways that you think he can help Trey, whether that’s leading up to a game or in-game as well?
“Yeah, the lesser a contract is, the more enticing you always are at every single position to every team. So that would be yes to your first question. And second, I think they like being around each other. They enjoyed each other last year, despite the fact that they were competing, especially in training camp. But they were really good with each other. And I think Jimmy, once he did get that starting role enjoyed Trey all year. And when I told Trey that Jimmy’s going to come back, he’s like, ‘Awesome. That dude was awesome for me last year. I can’t wait to be the same way.’ So I think when you have a quarterback room where people do like each other, it makes it more fun to come to work, because you are in that room a lot together. And I know those dudes do like each other. They got some different skill sets, so they both can learn stuff from each other just by watching each other. And the more football, the more they are around each other and the more they talk, usually that rubs off, both ways.”