Kyle Shanahan is a four-year veteran as a head coach, and there is no doubt he is a brilliant play-caller. Yet, when it comes to his role as the 49ers head coach, his decisions raise some eyebrows. One of the areas that concern me most is his statements during press conferences.
But with the beginning of the training camp, it looks like Shanahan has improved his media game.
It is well known that the 49ers desire to move from Jimmy Garoppolo. It is not a secret anymore. If anyone doubted that, the 49ers moving to the No. 3 spot in the draft was the final nail in the coffin of Garoppolo's future. Shanahan must have the freedom to work for the best of the 49ers organization. But he should be careful about the steps along the way.
On the day 49ers announced the draft move, questions were asked about the future of the Garoppolo. Shanahan did not make any effort to hide his frustration. He talked about making his quarterback mad. It is the honest answer but hurts the 49ers in return. Instead, it would have been better if the answer was a bit different. Let us come up with a better response for the same question.
What does this move mean for the future of Garoppolo?
What Shanahan should have said:
First of all, I have to say nothing will change how we evaluate Jimmy. He is our franchise quarterback. He is an excellent quarterback who took us to the Super Bowl in 2019. If not for some holding calls that went against us during that game, Jimmy would have been the MVP. I would be wearing a ring right now. When Jimmy starts, we win. The record speaks for itself. This move does not change the trust I have in Jimmy.
Kyle, If you still believe in Jimmy as your franchise quarterback, why do you want to move up to No. 3? You could have drafted a quarterback at 12. Isn't this an expensive move?
What Shanahan should have said:
Yes, I agree that is an expensive move. Unfortunately, Jimmy had some injury issues. If he is not on the field, we are not winning. We are not the same team without him. That is the simple truth we are trying to address. So our thought process was to develop a backup or rather a safety net that we are comfortable with. We felt this is the right year for it since we have the 12th pick. It made the situation easier to move up and work on a deal.
People would argue over the interpretation of Shanahan's response. That answer could have helped to keep the trade value of Garoppolo high. The press conference concluded with a famous quote.
"I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday,"
Shanahan did not stop there. Shanahan dropped another bomb during the "Flying Coach" podcast. Talking with Sean McVay and Peter Schrager, he could not stop explaining the situation behind the Matthew Stafford trade.
It is understandable how much he likes Stafford as a quarterback. But in business, revealing everything in your mind can be damaging. Being careful on what to tell the public is a quality that the head coach must have.
During training camp, Shanahan looked very sharp in front of the media. He was willing to answer the questions from the press while not throwing Garoppolo under the bus. The 49ers had to spend heavily to acquire Trey Lance. When the 49ers decide to trade Garoppolo, they must target to get the best value in return. It can only be done if the head coach understands the importance of the situation.
Shanahan will have to wait for the day that his autobiography is published to put out the entire truth. Until that day comes, he should act responsibly handling the media.