Kyle Shanahan. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

49ers coach won’t rush Jimmy Garoppolo into action

SANTA CLARA — New 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo met most of his teammates and took his first reps on his new team on Wednesday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan reiterated how much work he has to finish before he’ll be ready. He also said he wouldn’t put Garoppolo out there if he weren’t in a position to succeed, maintaining that Garoppolo “isn’t here to save our season.”

“I can’t promise you guys that he won’t play this week. I can’t promise you guys that he’ll play this year,” Shanahan said. “I know that we have a guy that we’re excited about and I know has the ability to really help us and help this team in the future.”

More Kyle Shanahan quotes on his new QB:

Do you plan to do anything at the quarterback depth chart going into this game? Will QB Jimmy Garoppolo be active for this game?

“I plan on it right now. We’ve got two on our roster. I know we’ve got one on practice squad. We’ll see how the week goes, but that’s what the plan is right now.”

You have to get him prepared to play in the game on Sunday.

“Yes, definitely.”

So, what are the steps that you have to take between yesterday and Sunday morning to get him up to speed to be able to handle a section of the playbook?

“A lot of meeting time. Right now, the most important thing is getting [QB] C.J. [Beathard] ready for Sunday, which gets most of the reps and everything. Jimmy’s process, it’s a work in progress right now. He’s got a long way to go in terms of learning the language, learning the verbiage of the offense and the majority of that is done in the classroom. Myself, [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] and Jimmy are going to have to put a lot of extra time into that just to give him a chance to play if need be.”

Do you like the similarity between those two guys, C.J. and Jimmy in terms of–?

“Yeah, I do. I think they both have very similar qualities, similar qualities that I really like. They both are mobile enough to make some plays with their legs. They are both mobile enough to get outside of the pocket. They are both capable of making every throw and they are very smart guys who work very hard.”

Maybe that’s something you focus on at the forefront of your mind right now, but when you make a move like you made for Jimmy, do you think about knocking off the number one thing on the list about how that opens up what you can do in the offseason in terms of using your resources?

“Yeah, of course. I think everything you think of, every decision you make is about how it affects you now and how it affects you later. When you have the opportunity to add a quarterback like Jimmy that people value the way we do and the way I think most of this league does, that was something you don’t hesitate on. And you can’t tell the future. Everyone can sit here and be picky and say, ‘What if this or what if that,’ but it’s all what ifs. We had an opportunity to get a guy who we think can be a very good quarterback and when that opportunity presents itself, I don’t think you sit there and you get picky. If you believe that that’s the right deal, you don’t hesitate, you make that move and then you see what happens in the future and when that happens you deal with it.”

How does that maybe kind of certainty allow you to, I’m not saying rest easy, but just plan for what you have to do and say, ‘Now we can build around this guy,’ as opposed to we’ve still got to figure this out?

“Well, I look at everything year-to-year. Like when I got here, you look at your board, you study a lot of film, you try to see where your roster is at, where contracts are, how long you’re going to have people and you try to see the holes in your roster. By no means can you fix all that stuff in one year. Sometimes you can’t do it in two years. All teams have to deal with that. Every team has certain holes on their roster. No one is every going to fill all of those and you don’t just go to a store and buy stuff to just fit those holes. The opportunity has to come across. The right people have to come across and when you see that and you think that there’s a person there that can help you, to me you don’t hesitate because you don’t know if there’s going to be a quarterback here, you don’t know if there’s going to be an O-Lineman here. So, when you have the chance to get one, you have to do it because I’ve gone into drafts, I’ve gone into free agency, I’ve gone into everything plenty of times saying, ‘Hey, we need this guy,’ and then you see the options and there isn’t that guy. So, do you go without that guy or do you end up making a mistake? That’s something that you don’t want to do. So, anytime you have an opportunity to fill something like that and to improve your team, those opportunities don’t happen much. That’s, to me, why when it comes around, you don’t hesitate.”

With that kind of position, given the pressure and expectation, it seems to be a big part of the job, Jimmy doesn’t have much experience, he’s walking into a situation where there’s going to be a lot of stress and pressure and expectations. Do you have a sense for how he will be able to deal with that or is that just an unknown?

“You have a sense, and that’s what’s always impressed me about him. You try to watch how a guy carries himself. Getting to know him a little bit throughout the college process when he was coming out, just watching how he carried himself in New England, on TV, interviews, talking to people who have a lot of experience with him, I’ve been very impressed with that. You never know until you’re with someone and you really go through it, but I don’t think there’s more pressure here than there was for him in New England. Everyone has their own situations and when he played for New England they had a lot of expectations. And so I think it was a lot of pressure for a guy to go in and take over a team like that in the times that he did. Just like there will be when he comes here and gets his opportunity here. Every situation is different, but I know he hasn’t played in a lot of games, but when he has I think there has been pressure on him. I know there will be here too. That’s how it is for everyone.”

Because you’ve studied Jimmy for such a long time and really kind of feel like you know what he brings to the table, how will you balance the idea in learning a playbook with throwing him out there and trying to see if he can be successful as opposed to waiting maybe for the rest of the season and not even putting him out there at all?

“Yeah, that’s why I have no certainty what we’ll do. That’s why I’m taking it one day at a time. I can’t promise you guys that he won’t play this week. I can’t promise you guys that he’ll play this year. I know that we have a guy that we’re excited about and I know has the ability to really help us and help this team in the future. That’s what I mean by we didn’t do this to just save this year. We did this because we feel this will improve our team and our organization. I’m not going to put someone out there who I don’t think has a chance to be successful. And that starts with the playbook, that starts with understanding the plays that you’re calling, how to communicate it to the other 10 guys, to know actually where people are when you say it. And not many people can understand that or should. Just like I can’t understand much outside of what I’m talking about right now. But, it’s tough. It’s tougher than people realize and you come in and it is a complete foreign language and he has only been one place and where he was before that I’m very familiar with some of that system and stuff they did. There’s no playbook. It’s a very spread offense. There’s going to be a lot of meeting time and just talking in terms of where people are lining up, protections, routes, and that’s something that it’ll take a while to grasp and most quarterbacks don’t even with an offseason until their second year in a system. We’ll take it week-to-week. We’ll see what happens, but regardless of what happens I know it’s not the finished product. We’ve got a good person. We’ve got a talented player. I’m very excited to have him and after that I just want to go to work with him and we’ll see what happens.”

jpalmer@sfexaminer.com

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