SANTA CLARA — The 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo.
They have him for the rest of the season.
They probably want to play him as soon as possible.
Under no circumstances should the Niners play Garoppolo at any point this season. They better keep him on the sideline and let C.J. Beathard play out the rest of the schedule.
According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo definitely won’t play this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We’ll look at it each week and when we feel that he’s comfortable and has a chance to go in there and have some success with the time he has put in and the reps he has gotten in practice, then we will decide when that time is right.”
Shanahan says Garoppolo needs to learn the playbook before he can play, and that learning process may take a while.
“Coming in and learning completely new terminology is a big deal. It’s always going to be a foreign language when you change what everything is called. One benefit he has now is our offense is similar to New England’s conceptually. It’s a pro scheme. I think that will be easier to where he could relate some plays to other plays with the verbiage.
“That’s when you talk about language. That takes a while to get comfortable with. Some guys go through that for a whole year and it’s still not totally natural to them. So, I know Jimmy is going to do everything he can to work at that. We’re not going through two-a-days where we can just give him a ton of reps, so a lot of it’s going to be in the classroom.
“One thing I know is I’m very excited to have Jimmy here, and I’m looking forward to the chance when he does get his opportunity to play.”
Shanahan said a lot of things in that quote, but he never approached saying when Garoppolo actually will play.
Garoppolo could take over the starting job after the bye week — that’s one school of thought. The Niners have two more games before their bye, so Garoppolo would have three weeks to learn the offense. Call that extreme cramming.
If he does that, then he would have the final six weeks of the season to play quarterback. The Niners could insert Garoppolo into the lineup November 26 against the Seahawks.
Don’t. Just don’t it. For the love of God, don’t do it.
Look at how opposing defenses have pulverized poor C.J. Beathard the past three games. Why let Garoppolo take those hits? The risks of playing him this season far outweigh the rewards.
The 49ers should sit Garoppolo until they have an offensive line that can protect him. Joe Staley has a broken orbital bone and may be out for the season. Trent Brown has a concussion – who knows when he’ll be back. And their backup, Garry Gilliam, is on I.R. Those are all the tackles the Niners have on their roster.
Zane Beadles and Erik Magnuson are the replacement tackles. They were backup guards a few weeks ago.
The starting guards are Laken Tomlinson, who’s still learning the offense and often blocks no one. And Brandon Fusco, who knows the offense and still can’t block anybody.
The center is Daniel Kilgore, who can’t hold his ground in the middle of the offensive line. Defensive tackles easily push him back into the quarterback.
And the running back is Carlos Hyde, who can’t pick up a blitz to save his life.
To save Garoppolo’s life, the Niners should not play him behind this mishmash of blockers, not risk him suffering a serious injury, like as a broken collarbone or a torn ACL or a wounded ego. Something that could keep him off the field the rest of this season and next season, too.
And for what?
The 49ers’ record probably will be 0-10 or 1-9 after the bye week. The remaining six games will be meaningless. They don’t need Garoppolo for meaninglessness.
And there’s something else. Garoppolo will be a free agent after this season — the 49ers didn’t sign him to a contract extension when they traded for him. They have to make him want to commit to the future of the franchise with a long-term deal.
They won’t get a commitment if he gets pounded, hammered, obliterated. After the season, he’ll go to his agent, Don Yee, and beg to get the hell out of Santa Clara. He’ll say, “I want to survive.”
That’s what C.J. Beathard is for, to take the beating in place of Garoppolo. Call Beathard the designated human sacrifice.
That’s where this is going.
Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Pressdemocrat.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.