SANTA CLARA — The quarterback of the 49ers’ future walked into the auditorium Tuesday and sat in the middle seat behind the podium, with general manager John Lynch to his right and head coach Kyle Shanahan to his left.
“I’d like to start off just thanking everyone from this organization, you know, starting with Jed (York, the 49ers CEO), Paraag (Marathe, the executive vice president), John and Kyle here,” Jimmy Garoppolo began. “It’s a privilege to be here.”
After Garoppolo had scribbled off a few more Hallmark cards, Lynch chimed in.
“I think Kyle will tell you a great quality of a quarterback, taking charge. I thought I was starting, but hey, have at it Jimmy,” Lynch said with a grin.
It was unusual, sure, but why not? Lynch and Shanahan already have an unconventional relationship, by NFL standards. Go ahead and loop the quarterback in for group decisions from this point forward.
The 49ers got the quarterback they wanted on Monday and introduced him to the world on Tuesday. And they are convinced it’s another triumph for the unique power structure here in the same offices where Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh once had to labor to tolerate one another.
“You know, there’s been a lot of talk about that,” Lynch said of the dynamic. “But, hey, Kyle and I came in here and we never made any bones about it. We were going to do this as a team, and we do. Through good times — there haven’t been a whole lot of those in the regular season — but throughout the whole process, we’ve been together. That’s the way we operate. I actually think that’s a cool thing. This process was no different.”
Lynch makes it sound like he and Shanahan are on the verge of communicating solely with emojis.
Not that everyone is thrilled with the setup. Sunday, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora wrote that he talked to three NFL team executives who reported difficulty in engaging the 49ers in trade talks. The execs complained that the Niners’ asking prices were generally Whole Foods-level ridiculous, and that Lynch couldn’t pull the trigger on a deal without consulting with Shanahan first.
“When you think you might be getting somewhere, Lynch says that he has to make sure Kyle is on board,” one source told La Canfora. “It’s not a great process.”
Except it might be a great process, at least for the 49ers.
Alienating other NFL front offices would be counterproductive in the long run, it’s true. Maybe the 49ers shouldn’t have demanded an entire slate of draft picks and a Fabergé egg for running back Carlos Hyde. But it’s hard to argue with the result in this case.
Garoppolo, who turns 26 on Thursday, can lay claim to exactly two NFL starts, 690 yards and five touchdowns. He is an unproven talent whose primary claim to fame is that he was allowed to attend quarterback meetings with Tom Brady and share his avocado ice cream for 3½ years. But there is no doubt he was a hot commodity.
Back in March, several news outlets reported that the Patriots were shopping Garoppolo and demanding two first-round draft picks in return. There were no takers. When the 49ers traded for the quarterback Monday, the cost was a single second-round choice. Granted, San Francisco is 0-8 and that is likely to be a HIGH second-rounder. Still, it’s clear the Patriots had moved Garoppolo’s No. 10 jersey to the clearance rack, and Lynch and Shanahan were happy to play the role of bargain shoppers.
ATHLETICS PROGRESS REPORT
2017 FINISH: 75-87 (5th in AL West)
MANAGER: Bob Melvin (537-534, 8th season)
PERSONNEL EXECUTIVE: Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations (21st season)
DOLLARS AND SENSE
Highest-paid player: OF Khris Davis ($10.5 million in 2018)
Top returning position player: 2B Jed Lowrie (4.0 WAR in 2017, baseball-reference.com)
Top returning pitcher: RHP Kendall Graveman (2.1 WAR in 2017)
Key addition(s): C Jonathan Lucroy (free agent), OF Stephen Piscotty (trade), LHP Ryan Buchter (trade), RHP Yusmeiro Petit (trade), 3B Nick Noonan (minor league free agent).
Key subtraction(s): RHP Jesse Hahn (trade), 1B Ryon Healy (trade), 2B Joey Wendle (trade).
Baseball America top-100 prospect(s): LHP A.J. Puk (No. 30), SS Franklin Barreto (No. 42), SS Jorge Mateo (No. 64), OF Dustin Fowler (No. 88).
STORYLINES TO WATCH
The A’s have finished dead last in the AL West three years in a row. They traded ace Sonny Gray in the most recent season. Their end-of-year payroll, according to Baseball Prospectus, has ranked 29th, 27th and 26th over that span. They spent $10 million for two years of RHP Yusmeiro Petit and in March added C Jonathan Lucroy for $6.5 million, their lone big-league free-agent additions this offseason. These are some of the reasons Oakland landed in the player’s union grievance regarding their revenue sharing spending.
3B Matt Olson’s eye-opening rookie campaign included a rookie-record 13 homers in September and 24 homers in his first 65 games, tied for the third most in MLB history. He also struck out 60 times, managed only two doubles in 216 plate appearances and was a .249 hitter in the minors. Can he sustain the .259/.352/.651 batting line he posted with Oakland in 2017?
OF Dustin Fowler had parlayed his best minor league season to date (.871 OPS, 13 HRs, 13 steals) into his first big-league call-up when he wrecked his knee running into an unpadded electrical box at the outfield wall in Chicago in his MLB debut. He was later included in the trade that sent Gray to the Yankees. In Oakland, Fowler is getting a chance to start anew.
— San Diego Union-Tribune