San Francisco 49ers' Kyle Shanahan remains coy on QB choice; Jimmy Garoppolo indicates 'it's official'

Jimmy Garoppolo explains how he knew that he would be the 49ers' starting quarterback. (0:40).
Garoppolo knew from a long time that he would be the starter (0.40).

SANTA CLARA (Calif.) -- While Kyle Shanahan, the San Francisco 49ers' coach, won't say who his starting quarterback will be, all signs point towards the same candidate they used throughout the preseason: Jimmy Garoppolo, the incumbent.

Garoppolo confirmed on Wednesday that he would start Sunday's regular season opener against the Detroit Lions.

Garoppolo stated, "I told you guys long ago that I had a pretty good feeling regarding it." "I joked about it, but I always felt like I knew exactly where I was and what I should do. Now it's official, I suppose."

Given Shanahan's many comments on the subject since July 27, when it was brought up for the first time, Garoppolo should not be surprising.

Shanahan was then asked if he would have an open competition between Garoppolo (No.) and Shanahan. Trey Lance, the third overall pick. Shanahan stated Garoppolo was "our starter", and explained that Lance would have to catch Garoppolo and win the job.

These are the statements Shanahan once again referred to Wednesday, when he was offered yet another chance to name the starter.

Shanahan stated, "I'm not going answer that because I feel like you guys only have to look at what I've said since July 27." "I wish I was more logical with it, but I feel like you guys are a bit hardheaded and continue asking. It seems like I already have the answer. "So, let's just keep it that way."

After camp, Shanahan made it clear that Lance would be playing this season, at the very least, situationally. However, he never claimed that Lance had caught up with Garoppolo.

Shanahan started to hint that Garoppolo was the starting pitcher during the last few weeks of preseason. He said he had a good idea of who it would be, but declined to announce. Garoppolo, who smiled big, said that he also had a good idea of who it would be.

The 49ers began to use Garoppolo, Lance and the rest of their offense in tandem. Lance and Garoppolo took the majority of the work while Lance and the starting offense got occasional opportunities. For the final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders Garoppolo was with Lance and Garoppolo rotating with the first-team offense on the first two drives. Lance played 14 snaps while Garoppolo took the other 10.

Shanahan did not call it a competition between Garoppolo or Lance. This distinction was something he repeated Wednesday. He also pointed out that Lance had experienced some of the normal bumps and bruises that rookie quarterbacks are accustomed to.

Shanahan stated, "I never said they were competing." "I have always stated that if one guy gives us a better chance of winning, we'll never hesitate in making that decision. But I believe it's been, I look at rookie quarterbacks, and I don't believe anything has been consistent. It's been up-and-down, some good and some bad. It's almost exactly what you would expect.

Garoppolo will start his fourth season as San Francisco's starting pitcher on Sunday. However, he has only started six games in 2019, so he is unlikely to be the first time he starts more than one game. Garoppolo is currently 24-9 as the Niners' starter, and 26-9 overall.

Despite an offseason filled with turmoil that saw the Niners trade up for No. 3 in the draft to pick Lance, and speculation about his future with this team, Garoppolo stated that he was happy with Shanahan's communication throughout the entire process, even though it was a "weird".

Garoppolo was almost always with the starting offense during camp and had what Shanahan described as "as sharp an Offseason as he has had since I've known him."

Garoppolo also said that he didn't feel like he was in a competition with Shanahan.

"Not to me, no," Garoppolo said. "I enter it fairly consistently every day. It's the same attitude. It's always a contest, but you compete against the defense during training camp. Now we are competing against Detroit. It's a place I've been all my life and it's helped to keep me steady through this whole thing."

The 49ers' biggest quarterback question going into Sunday is how Lance will be used. He is still working to recover from what is believed to have been a micro-chip fracture in his right index finger.

Lance sustained the injury on Aug. 29, and was unable to take snaps or throw a ball in either of two practices last week, or Monday's session. Lance was able to throw in Wednesday's open practice.

The availability of Lance may dictate whether the 49ers will bring Nate Sudfeld from their practice squad to be Garoppolo's backup. On Tuesday, the team used one of its possible practice squad "protections" against Sudfeld.

Shanahan was straightforward when asked what he expected to see in Lance against the Lions.

Shanahan stated, "I hope that he's well enough to be in uniform." "That's what I hope right now."

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