Kyle Shanahan 'ready' for Trey Lance to be 49ers' starter: 'I think that will be sooner (rather) than later'

Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the 49ers, and San Francisco doesn't seem to be too anxious to move him just yet.

A day after general manager John Lynch told reporters he doesn't foresee a future in which the Niners feel obligated to release Garoppolo, coach Kyle Shanahan followed suit, telling reporters they aren't going to part ways with Garoppolo just to save salary-cap space, even if Trey Lance is ready to take over.

"That's why we looked into trading Jimmy," Shanahan said Tuesday from the NFL's Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida. "Because we obviously believe Trey can be a starter and we're ready to do that. But if we can't upgrade our team in another way, we're not going to just get rid of a good quarterback because we have other quarterbacks on the roster. Quarterbacks are really hard to come by, some teams don't have any at all, and the fact that we have three that we're happy with, that is a good thing.

"You always want to upgrade your team and usually only one guy could play, and we know we have all guys that are capable of starting, which, Jimmy's done a great job for us. We brought Trey here to do that eventually, and I think that will be sooner (rather) than later. But when Jimmy gets his surgery and we can't upgrade our team by getting some good picks, until surgery, until people feel good about that, I'm alright with that we're not just going to get rid of him to get rid of him.

"Jimmy's a good player that we all really like as a person and as a teammate, and we're going to wait to see whatever helps the Niners the most."

As our Kevin Patra laid out Monday, the belief entering the offseason was San Francisco would move Garoppolo to a quarterback-needy club in exchange for draft capital. The carousel has since turned many times, placing Tom Brady back in Tampa, Carson Wentz in Washington, Matt Ryan in Indianapolis, Deshaun Watson in Cleveland, Marcus Mariota in Atlanta, Jameis Winston in New Orleans and Mitchell Trubisky in Pittsburgh. The only two logical destinations remaining for quarterbacks are in Carolina -- where the Panthers are paying Sam Darnold $18 million in guaranteed money and hold the sixth overall pick in April's draft -- and Seattle, where the Seahawks have Drew Lock and room to add another quarterback.

With this in mind, it would seem Garoppolo could fit in Seattle, but the Seahawks are a division rival to the 49ers. Baker Mayfield is also available, though the Browns have yet to work a deal to move him elsewhere. Simply put, the market for Garoppolo -- who underwent surgery and won't be able to throw until training camp -- has nearly dried up.

If the 49ers decline to move Garoppolo for peanuts and instead keep him (and his $25.5 million salary, for which Lynch said Monday the 49ers have budgeted), that could open the door for a quarterback competition in the summer. San Francisco hasn't thought that far ahead, though.

"Definitely haven't gotten that far. We'd figure that out," Shanahan said. "It'd be something. He'd be on our team. Jimmy's a good quarterback, so he's not easy for anyone to beat out.

"That was tough, Trey wasn't ready to beat him out last year. It'll definitely be closer to that this year, if it happens, but that's something we won't have to worry about until training camp. Usually when you have a situation like that, it makes everyone better anyways."

As 2021 proved, Garoppolo is a good enough quarterback to help his team reach the playoffs, aiding San Francisco in an unexpected run to the NFC Championship Game. He's also not quite good enough to throw them to a Super Bowl appearance, or at least hasn't been to this point in his career.

Lance represents a possibility of establishing a higher ceiling for the 49ers under center, but as the football world witnessed in 2021, he's not quite ready to become that leading figure just yet. Perhaps an offseason will change that reality. But if the 49ers have Garoppolo on their roster in July, they won't be upset. They'll just feel more secure about their situation at the position entering 2022.

Niners owner Jed York told reporters he gave Lynch and Shanahan his blessing to keep Jimmy G on the roster, even at his current salary.

"They have my authority to put the roster together as they see fit," York said. "If that's what it is, then as long as we're competing and we're winning football games, they have the ability to do what they think is best to help us win. We've made trades and we've had guys that are making a lot of money who haven't been on the field. ... If we think it's the best decision to have two guys that we think are very capable of winning football games and giving us a chance to win the Super Bowl, there's no position more important than that in all of sports. So, if we're going to overinvest in something, I'd rather overinvest in the quarterback position than anything else."

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