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.