Barber: Playing Jimmy Garoppolo is a non-starter for 49ers
SANTA CLARA - We thought the 49ers were acquiring a solid quarterback when they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo on Oct. 30. Turns out they were getting some sort of doomsday device. The guy is cloaked in so much secrecy that the team won't even allow us to see him in action.
What are you hiding, 49ers? Give us the Garoppolo!
We figured this was the week we'd see No. 10 behind center. It made so much sense. The most obvious reason was that the 49ers are exiting their bye week. Swapping out one starting quarterback for another is always awkward. But if you're going to do it, why not make it happen after a doubly long break, one that the new guy (Garoppolo) spent with his nose in the playbook?
There are other factors that pointed to a Nov. 26 debut for Garoppolo. Like the health of his offensive line, and the health of C.J. Beathard's thumb.
The former is pretty good right now; it would make sense to introduce your new investment when tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown are both able-bodied and the quarterback has a chance to stay upright.
And the latter isn't perfect; Beathard, who has started the past four games at QB, still has a sore digit on his passing hand.
Anyway, we're dyin' over here. It has been excruciating to watch the 49ers perform for much of this season. Throw us a bone, Niners. Give us the Garoppolo.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan formally announced Wednesday what his general manager, John Lynch, had presaged Tuesday: that Beathard will get at least one more start. And erase the notion that Shanahan might play Garoppolo in the second half, or toggle between quarterbacks against the Seahawks on Sunday.
“It's not going to be like an experimental - get a guy a few reps and stuff,” Shanahan said. “You go with the guy and you do whatever you can to win the game, and you make changes with injuries if need be.”
So there you have it. The 49ers traded a high-high second-round draft choice to New England for Garoppolo, but he'll be a dashing clipboard-holder for at least another week.
Why? Shanahan talked about the decision at length Wednesday, but the only sentence you really need is this one: “I don't think it's totally right for Jimmy, C.J., the entire team or organization” to change quarterbacks right now.
The way I see it, Shanahan is 75 percent correct, which isn't bad for an NFL coach.
What's totally right for Jimmy? To set up a director's chair on the 49ers sideline bearing his name, and to let Sunday continue to be a day of rest for the fourth-year pro.
Shanahan's offensive system is notoriously complex - in its nomenclature, in its variety of sets, in its patterns of motion. Garoppolo admitted Wednesday that he isn't “100 percent comfortable” with every play.
And let's face it, he probably isn't 100 percent comfortable with his help on offense. The 49ers' interior line is shaky, and their wide receivers resemble the winners of an open tryout. The best thing for Garoppolo would be to admire the scene through binoculars.
What's totally right for C.J.? To keep on playing. The guy absolutely deserves it. He was more sparring partner than quarterback in his first four games (including a relief role at Washington in Week 6), hounded and battered by waves of pass rushers.
Two Sundays ago, the O-line finally gave him time to throw against the listless Giants, and Beathard was fantastic: 19 of 25 for 288 yards and a couple touchdowns, plus another TD rushing.
It would be fitting to give him further chances to prove his worth as an NFL quarterback.
What's totally right for the entire team? If you're talking about the team on the field, the answer is definitely to stick with Beathard. The 49ers finally found some rhythm behind their rookie quarterback in Week 10. To yank him out of the lineup and replace him with Garoppolo would be to jeopardize that flow.
Unfortunately for all of the above, the last part of Shanahan's equation is by far the most important. What's totally right for the organization? To put Garoppolo on the field.
In just about everything they've done since they arrived more or less in tandem last February, Lynch and Shanahan have taken a long view on their decisions.
That was true when they opted for middling Brian Hoyer as a stopgap quarterback rather than shelling out big bucks for someone with a higher profile, and when they released accomplished veterans like Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman.
Shanahan positions The Great Wait for Garoppolo as another example of patience, but you could see it as the opposite. Sticking with Beathard gives the 49ers the best chance of winning now. Playing Garoppolo is more vital to the team's future.