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John Lynch on Tuesday gave his strongest indications yet that Jimmy Garoppolo is the 49ers’ quarterback of the future but perhaps not their quarterback for the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks.
While pointing out that coach Kyle Shanahan will decide who will start Sunday, Lynch said that team officials want to put the still-learning Garoppolo in the best possible position when he does hit the field.
Lynch, the 49ers general manager, also noted that C.J. Beathard “played extremely well” in the team’s most recent game, a 31-21 win over the Giants in which he was 19 of 25 for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re both believers that this will play itself out,” Lynch said of he and Shanahan. “You guys obviously know what we think of Jimmy in terms of why we brought him here. But we also think highly of C.J., enough to trade up to the third round to get him.”
After the 49ers traded a second-round pick to New England to acquire Garoppolo, Lynch went on KNBR radio and said at the very least the 49ers now had a “chip” they could use to garner more draft picks. That led to a week’s worth of stories and speculation that the 49ers were not convinced Garoppolo would be their long-term starter and that they still might pursue Kirk Cousins in free agency or use their first-round draft pick on someone like USC’s Sam Darnold.
“That probably was a stupid thing to say,” Lynch said when asked about the “chip” comment. “That is not at all what we think. We genuinely believe that this guy’s got the makeup of a guy who could be our guy for years to come. That’s all got to come to fruition on the field and all that. But that was kind of a throwaway line that got a lot of attention.”
Later Lynch was asked whether trading for Garoppolo meant the front office isn’t spending as much time studying draft-eligible quarterbacks as it was before the move. As it stands now, the 49ers hold the No. 2 pick, a spot at which a quarterback has been selected in each of the last three drafts.
“We still study every position, but we feel pretty good about where our quarterback room is,” he said.
Lynch said the three weeks Garoppolo has spent with the 49ers only has reinforced the team’s belief in him.
The quarterback arrived in Santa Clara on a Tuesday afternoon and by Sunday had crammed enough of Shanahan’s West Coast offense – a verbose foreign language compared to the Patriots’ concise, numbers-based scheme – to serve as the backup five days later against the Arizona Cardinals.
Over the recent bye week, Garoppolo stuck around the 49ers facility for a more basic tutorial. He mostly met with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello but also had a one-on-one session with Shanahan.
“I think it was a really productive week,” Lynch said.
Still, there’s a sense that the longer the 49ers wait with Garoppolo, the better off he’ll be when he takes his first snap for San Francisco. Beathard’s first win of the season perhaps has afforded the team some extra time.
“When you watch C.J. Beathard the other day, it looked like he could be our guy,” Lynch said. “It’s a good issue and we also realize that we have to grow around them. We’ve got to continue to put pieces in place, and we will.”