49ers' Kyle Shanahan believes Jimmy Garoppolo can be all-time great QB


A month after the 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV, coach Kyle Shanahan talked to Jimmy Garoppolo to inform him the club held internal discussions about pursuing free-agent quarterback Tom Brady.

Garoppolo did not have much to worry about, however, as Shanahan and John Lynch came to the conclusion the 49ers already had their answer at quarterback in the building.

“When you have to talk to Jimmy about one of the best quarterbacks of all time being available, I know Jimmy has a goal to be that,” Shanahan said Thursday in a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“I know Jimmy. I believe Jimmy has the ability to be that and that's what both of us are going for. If we can get him there and he has the ability to do it, we're going to be pretty happy with who we have for a long time.”

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Garoppolo had one of the best individual seasons for a 49ers quarterback in two decades in his only full season as an NFL starter. He entered 2018 as the starter but sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in the third game of the season.

While the 49ers are going through their virtual offseason, Garoppolo can hone in on improving from last year, Shanahan said.

“So to go through an offseason where you don't have to rehab the whole time, it gives you a chance to take that to another level,” Shanahan said. “I think Jimmy's fired up for this year. Last year was his first year to play a whole year and he had a hell of a year and got us very close to winning the Super Bowl.”

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Garoppolo’s sole focus this offseason has been on gaining a better understanding of the requirements of his position.

Garoppolo ranked in the top five in touchdown passes (27), completion percentage (69.1) and yards per attempt (8.4) during the regular season. The 49ers won the NFC West and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 13-3 record.

“I can tell his thoughts are a lot clearer because he's not worrying about an ACL and rehabbing,” Shanahan said. “He's 100-percent focused and getting better mentally from knowing the offense -- from just knowing defense.

“Jimmy's learned the offense. He's fine with that. It's just being automatic. It’s understanding coverages, going through everything where, I can't tell you how much more I know as a coach in year 17 or whatever then I did in year two. That never stops.”

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