The San Francisco 49ers have two quarterbacks who could take the starting job, Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, and star tight end George Kittle is glad the decision is not up to him. It seems Lance will be QB1, but Kittle told reporters Friday that it is a close competition.
When asked who he would rather have throwing him the football, Kittle gave arguments for both players. Here’s what he said (via Pro Football Talk):
“That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? That’s one reason I’m glad I’m not the head coach of the 49ers. That’s all on coach (Kyle) Shanahan. I’ll give you both ways. Jimmy G, awesome in the huddle, great leader, directs guys. People go to attention when he’s talking. He’s got a quick release, he knows the offense. Like I said, been to two NFC Championship games, knows what he’s doing. Trey Lance can run, extend plays, does all the play-action stuff incredible, could throw the ball 70 yards. I don’t know. It’s a toss-up for me. … Football is a competitive sport. If there’s not competition, if you’re not fighting for your starting job every single day, then you’re not going to get any better.”
While Garoppolo has the past experience, appearing in two NFC Championships games and a Super Bowl, the 49ers gave up a lot to draft Lance, who could be the future of the team and has showed immense potential.
Despite the competition, Kittle said Garoppolo has been calm through it all.
“Jimmy did nothing but be a professional every single day. He didn’t complain about it one time. He wasn’t in a corner talking crap about the situation. He showed up every day as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He went out there and practiced every day. He worked hard every single day. He set good examples for all the young guys, for all of us, and he motivated everybody.”
The competition allowed Lance to learn from Garoppolo, and they pushed each other throughout the season, Kittle said.
When a team takes a quarterback in the first round, especially as high as No. 3, the quarterback currently on the team is being sent a message, which Kittle described as the “writing on the wall.”
Quarterback battles often causes drama, but Kittle said “the way (Garoppolo) handled it was great for us,” and that “I don’t know if there’s a better professional in the NFL than Jimmy Garoppolo with how he dealt with that situation. I think he made everyone around him better that year.”
Garoppolo’s injuries have been an issue throughout his starting career, and undergoing offseason shoulder surgery did not exactly help his trade market. Still, Kittle said the media and fans questioning if Garoppolo will be their starter is just something they are used to now, and he denied the talk being a distraction.
Describing the rollercoaster that has been the quarterback’s time in San Fransisco, Kittle said, “I mean, Jimmy G’s been under scrutiny since after the 2018 season where he tore his ACL. That whole season was like, ‘Oh, is Jimmy G the guy?’ Then he comes back, takes us to a Super Bowl, then we lose and then the next offseason is, ‘Oh, is Jimmy G the guy?’ We had another injury, 2020. It was a tough year for the Niners and then we came back and go to another NFC Championship game.”
No matter who the quarterback is, Kittle just wants to make sure he is able to make plays.
“We’re all here just trying to get better and whether that’s Jimmy G, whether it’s Trey Lance, whether it’s Nate Sudfeld, or our Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. Whoever is slinging that rock hopefully will just throw it to me more than anybody else. As long as they’re throwing me the football, it is what it is.”