The 49ers surrendered multiple first-round draft picks to move up for quarterback Trey Lance in April, but not after inquiring about a potential Aaron Rodgers trade. Months later, with training camp on the horizon, Jimmy Garoppolo is the presumptive starter in San Francisco. But that doesn’t mean the Niners aren’t open to replacing him, even for Week 1. In a conversation with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, coach Kyle Shanahan admitted the team considered a Rodgers offer ahead of the draft and, after adding Lance, is open to the rookie QB starting the 2021 season under center.
“I definitely see it as Jimmy’s the starter,” Shanahan said. “But if Trey’s ready to compete, I have no problem with it. I don’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re not playing a rookie quarterback. We have to rest him the first year.’ … I don’t really make any decisions like that until I actually have an opinion on it. And that’ll take to how I see him in camp. If he comes in and he’s playing at a high level and we think he gives us the best chance to win, we wouldn’t hesitate to do that.”
Shanahan added that it’d still “be really hard for any rookie quarterback” to stand out that much, especially because “Jimmy is a very good player … (who’s) played at a very high level.” In other words, it’s more likely than not that Garoppolo will open the year at QB, because “Trey’s really going to have to be on it to come in and seriously push him.”
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But the door is open. That shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise considering how much the 49ers gave up to draft Lance in what could still be considered a “win-now” season, just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. But it’s notable nonetheless, especially in light of the fact San Francisco considered replacing Garoppolo with another QB in Rodgers.
“We didn’t think we could,” Shanahan told Kawakami of a potential trade for the Packers star. “But (general manager) John (Lynch) and I were sitting there the day before the draft and you hear all the stuff that’s out there. I mean, everyone’s been putting it out there since January. And John and I were like, ‘Oh my God, what if the day after the draft Aaron Rodgers got traded and we didn’t even look into it?’ Everyone knows how good Aaron is, so you’d better look into that.”
Shanahan said he touched base with Packers coach Matt LaFleur about Lynch potentially placing a call to Green Bay GM Brian Gutekunst. In response, per Shanahan, LaFleur told the 49ers they could “do whatever you want (but) there’s no way in hell that we’re trading him to you guys.” In the end, the coach told Kawakami, Lynch never placed an official call to Gutekunst, even though Lynch admitted after the draft he had “inquired” about Rodgers’ availability.