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Kyle Shanahan 'expects' Jimmy Garoppolo back in 2021, doesn't close door on change

Jason Owens
·3-min read

Not everyone’s on board with Jimmy Garoppolo as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

But head coach Kyle Shanahan is. At least he’s saying so in public.

With his starting quarterback sidelined a second time this season by a high ankle sprain, Shanahan was asked on Tuesday about Garoppolo’s status moving forward. He expects him to return in 2020 and to be the 49ers quarterback next season.

“I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year," Shanahan told reporters, per The Athletic. “I mean, I expect him to come and play with us this year. We have six games left. We are not out of the playoffs yet.”

Jury’s still out on Garoppolo

Garoppolo has been limited to six games this season because of injury. He hasn’t been great when he’s been on the field, averaging 187.2 passing yards per game while throwing seven touchdowns and five interceptions.

Shanahan didn’t exude confidence in Garoppolo last postseason, reining in the passing game during San Francisco’s run to the Super Bowl. Garoppolo attempted just 27 pass attempts in San Francisco’s two playoff games prior to the Super Bowl, including a 6-of-8 performance in the NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers that saw the 49ers run the ball 42 times for 285 yards.

Garoppolo then threw two interceptions in San Francisco’s Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 11: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 speaks with head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional Round Playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium on January 11, 2020 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Kyle Shanahan largely backed his quarterback on Tuesday, but stopped short of making personnel promises for next season. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

But the 49ers have found success with Garoppolo at quarterback on a roster built around defense and the running game. He’s 22-8 as a starter in San Francisco including last season’s 13-3 run to the NFC West title and Super Bowl.

He was productive in his only fully healthy season as a starter, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 248.6 yards per game while throwing 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Shanahan makes no promises for 2021

And for now, Shanahan says he’s still his guy and hopes to have him back for this 4-6 injury ravaged season. But he declined to close the door on a change next season. And with six games left in 2020, why would he?

“We've gotta do it one game at a time, and I hope Jimmy can come back and be a part of that,” Shanahan said of the rest of this season. “But to think that we've made any decisions on anybody going into the future isn't the case.

“Jimmy has won a lot of games for us this year. It's a lot harder to win games when he's not here. Just hoping we can get him back.”

Shanahan should be expected to back Garoppolo while he’s still San Francisco’s designated starter. He should also be expected to keep his eyes open for a potential upgrade at the game’s most important position.

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