When the San Francisco 49ers traded a second-round pick to the New England Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo, I was under the assumption that he’d play sooner rather than later. I figured they would want to get Jimmy G as many reps as possible with his new teammates as an extended pre-season to close out the 2017 schedule. Guess I was wrong as head coach Kyle Shanahan announced that rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard will make his fifth start of the year against Seattle on Sunday. So why are Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch holding off on Jimmy Garoppolo’s debut?
There’s a few reasons why the Niners aren’t in a rush to get their new quarterback on the field. First of all, he needs to learn the system and the playbook as much as possible before becoming the signal caller. Football has its own language and every team speaks a different dialect. Garoppolo must study the 49ers hieroglyphics so he’s fully prepared to get under center in live game action. Communication is extremely important in the NFL whether it’s dictating an audible or using hand signals to get his players in the right position.
Another factor in this decision is that the 49ers aren’t fully healthy and the team wants to put Jimmy G in the best position possible for him to succeed. It’s tough to do that when the offensive line is banged up and their best receiver (Pierre Garcon) is out for the season. It makes sense keeping Garoppolo on the bench a bit longer so he’s not thrown into an unwinnable situation. And worse, the media and fans would make a huge deal if Jimmy G doesn’t perform well in his first few games with his new team. They’ll say things like Garoppolo is a product of the Patriots system and that he’s way over-valued. San Francisco is (1 – 9) on the season so they don’t need any more negative press.
The last variable in this decision is the fact that C.J. Beathard is actually playing well. It’s not like the Niners are going to make a playoff run, but the franchise did move up in the draft to get Beathard in the third round. Obviously, they think pretty highly of their rookie quarterback! He helped get the 49ers their first victory of the season against the Giants in week 10 throwing for nearly 300 yards, two touchdown passes and even added a rushing TD during the win.
So it’s fair to keep Beathard going a bit longer in case Garoppolo, who’s a free agent after the season, decides he’d rather go elsewhere. Perhaps Jimmy G won’t pan out as the Niners franchise QB for the next decade as many suspect. There’s always the possibility of an injury as well so I realize it makes sense to keep Beathard on the field for another game or two. The 49ers need to see if the rookie can improve and how high his ceiling is compared to Garoppolo. Maybe Beathard will keep getting better and catch the eye of another team interested in his services.
Anything is possible, especially in the National Football League! I’d personally like to see Jimmy G on the field sooner rather than later so he can get his feet wet. My guess is he’ll start by week 14 at the latest, giving him four games of “practice” as the 49ers starter. This way he’ll have some experience heading into the 2018 season and get ahead of the curve.