San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is making his opinion about Jimmy Garoppolo clear: He wants Garoppolo back as starting quarterback in 2021.
Kittle, one of the Niners’ most talented and highest paid players, voiced his support for Garoppolo in a radio interview on Tuesday. Garoppolo spent more than half of the 2020 season injured, and his future in San Francisco is still uncertain despite receiving a vote of confidence from head coach Kyle Shanahan on Monday.
Kittle doesn’t want a different quarterback
Mark Willard of KNBR interviewed Kittle on Tuesday and asked him for his thoughts about all the criticism Garoppolo has received this season. Kittle answered with a strong defense of his starting quarterback.
“At the end of the day, I play tight end here and I just work here, but I think that I do have a little bit of a voice and I’ve said multiple times that I just love playing football with Jimmy G,” Kittle told KNBR. “Our team is different when he’s out there, and that’s why it’s fun to play football with him because I think we both have big-time changes to our huddles when we’re both on the football field.
“I can’t say enough about the leader Jimmy G is, and how his presence changes how the team is feeling, how the team is going about its business and how the team practices every day. Jimmy G is our quarterback, and moving forward he’s our quarterback, and that’s all I really have to say about it.
“I’m going to go with the guy that took us to a Super Bowl and played at a high level the entire year. That’s my case for Jimmy G, and I think it’s a decent one.”
It’s true that Kittle isn’t one of the team’s decision-makers, but the five-year, $75 million contract he signed with the Niners in August likely gives him “a little bit of a voice” with the front office. At the very least his opinion might carry enough weight to be heard, though that doesn’t mean anyone will consider it when making decisions.
Shanahan expects Garoppolo back in 2021
Amid the questions about Garoppolo’s future as the Niners’ disappointing 2020 season comes to a close, Shanahan told the media on Monday that he expects Garoppolo to be his starting quarterback in 2021, though he can’t be completely certain that wouldn’t change with a drastic offseason.
“You can’t say anything with certainty,” Shanahan said, via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner. “You don’t sit here and make promises on anything. When you build a football team, it’s your job to put the best team together year in and year out. … Jimmy you can win with. He’s proven that. He’s proven that he’s a starting quarterback in this league.”
Despite the hedging, Shanahan pointed out exactly why it’s likely that Garoppolo will start for the Niners in 2021: replacing him with a better quarterback would be very hard to do.
“Now, you look into every avenue and you see if there’s something out there that can get you a ton better. That’s the same answer for every position, but look at Jimmy, look at what he’s done. ... We better have a very good answer if you’re gonna find something better than [Garoppolo], because Jimmy has shown in one year that he’s the guy who can take us to the Super Bowl.”
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