Plenty of teams headed to Indianapolis ready to look at the quarterbacks at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine with the mindset of finding the guy that best fits their scheme and can lead the franchise for the foreseeable future, but the San Francisco 49ers are not one of them.
The 49ers got the guy they believe could be their franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, in a mid-season trade last year, and recently, reached a deal on a five-year contract extension, which coach Kyle Shanahan believes will be important to the development of the team moving forward.
“It’ll be nice in free agency when anybody we’re going after doesn’t ask me who our quarterback’s going to be,” Shanahan said while addressing the media at the Combine.
“They know. That’s nice. I don’t always have to say, ‘We’ll have one, I promise. Just wait. We’ll see.’ That makes it a little easier. I think that makes it a little more attractive. People can see where we’re going, what our situation is, and now, you can be focused on getting better at the position. It eases everyone.”
In just six games with the 49ers last season, Garoppolo completed 120 of his 178 attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns against five interceptions. Garoppolo completed 20 20-yard passes and five 40-yard throws after the trade.
“I think everyone could see his arm talent right away,” Shanahan said. “There was a lot of buzz about that right when we got him, and his personality, I think everyone gravitated to.
“I think our team started to get better in that month, even before he started playing. We got our first win in a couple weeks before his first start, and once he got in, he played very well and the team started to get better every week after that.”
The 49ers got Garoppolo from the New England Patriots for the paltry sum of one second-round pick.
“He gave us a chance to get him and we strongly appreciated that,” Shanahan said. “It was a heck of an opportunity for us and we didn’t want to pass at that.
“They weren’t interested early on, at this time last year. I think it became a lot more realistic at the trade deadline. I think that pushes a lot of teams to have to make certain decisions. I think they tried to hold onto him as long as possible, but a few days before the trade deadline, it came up and I think they had to make a move to help their team and their future, and fortunately, it helped us also.”
Now, with Garoppolo in the fold long-term, the 49ers are focused on building around him in order to get the organization back into the postseason picture soon.
“We were hoping that we would have our quarterback by our second year, so I think that it’s gone as planned,” Shanahan said.
“You’d like to get it the first day you got somewhere, but that’s not as easy as everybody might think it is. We got him, and we feel great. I think it’s nice going into free agency and the draft when we feel pretty good about our quarterback room. It’s just part of the process, and we’ve got to keep adding a lot.”