Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers have taken every opportunity over the past several months to prop up Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback.
On the surface, this seemed to be a bit odd given that San Francisco exhausted two future first-round picks from move up to the third selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, ultimately selecting QB Trey Lance from North Dakota State.
With Lance showing out big time during training camp and in his preseason debut, the focus in Santa Clara is now turning to whether the small-school product actually has a chance to be San Francisco’s Week 1 starter.
Usually coy when it comes to speaking to the media, Shanahan seemingly changed his tune following th 49ers’ joint practice with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. His remarks were eye-opening.
“They’re (Garoppolo, Lance) competing their ass off. They’re doing a good job,” Shanahan told reporters. “It’s not about one guy versus the other guy. It’s about how good can Trey be, how good can Jimmy be. I think both of them, when you go through camp, you go through games you go through practices — it’s up and down throughout the whole thing. So that’s why I don’t sit and [say] who’s ahead of the other, what’s going on after each practice. They both bring different elements to our team. Both of them, I believe, can play at a high level and I’m trying to see which one does that the best for us.”
This is a far cry from remarks Shanahan made less than a month ago.
“There’s no open competition right now,” Shanahan told reporters back in late July before saying that Garoppolo is “the best quarterback in the building at the moment.”