SANTA CLARA — Tuesday afternoon, the 49ers introduced their newest player, the man they hope will be their quarterback of the future — Jimmy Garoppolo. “Hope” is the operative word.
During his press conference, Garoppolo smiled, acted polite and said all the right things. Except the ultimate thing — that he wants to play for the 49ers in the long term. He is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, and the 49ers traded for him without signing him to a contract extension.
“I guess we’ll see what happens,” Garoppolo said. “I’m thrilled to be here. Just got here this morning. I couldn’t be happier, but we’ve got to take it week by week right now. I’ve got a whole playbook to learn. The terminology — it’s going to be like learning a different language. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and enjoying the process.”
When asked if he wants to stay with the 49ers past this season, Garoppolo wouldn’t answer.
“Oh man, I just got off the plane like an hour ago,” he said. “I haven’t even thought about that, to be honest. I’ll probably have a better answer for you in the future.”
On Garoppolo’s right on the stage sat general manager John Lynch, who sounded confident he can keep the quarterback around for the future. But Lynch gave no specific plan how he will do that.
“I just met Jimmy for the first time,” Lynch said. “There are a lot of options at our disposal. We’re just getting to know him. But I can tell you, second-round picks are very valuable in this league, particularly where we are at as an organization, so this is a guy we want and we’re willing to give what we thought was a very valuable commodity in exchange for him. We’re excited moving forward that he’s going to be part of our future.”
On Garoppolo’s left sat head coach Kyle Shanahan, who reiterated what Lynch said.
“We brought (Garoppolo) here because we want him to be the quarterback of the future. That’s up to Jimmy and how it works out here.”
Shanahan said he has coveted Garoppolo since he came out of college in 2014. That year, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.
“I really believe in him,” Shanahan said. “I put a lot of time into Jimmy throughout college. Got to study a lot of tape on him from Eastern Illinois. Got a chance to go down there and work him out when he was coming out. Got to go out to dinner with him. Felt very good about him coming out of college.
“Obviously didn’t get him when I was at Cleveland, but watching the time he has had in the NFL, his regular-season games and throughout the preseason, he has looked exactly like the player that we hoped he could be. Watching how he handles himself, how he carries himself, talking to people that have a lot of respect for him, what they say about him as a man, as a leader, he’s the exact type of guy that you’re looking for.”
What specifically does Shanahan like about the way Garoppolo plays?