The San Francisco 49ers haven't been able to escape the questions about the quarterback position, primarily because their chosen starter hasn't been able to stay healthy.
If that changes, though, the club expects those inquiries to evaporate with time. When asked if there was any doubt Jimmy Garoppolo would be San Francisco's starter if his health was guaranteed, general manager John Lynch was unequivocally convinced in his response.
"No," he said Wednesday, via fullpresscoverage.com. "Not at all. I really believe that."
Lynch's response is the firmest the franchise has given on the topic since the 49ers entered an offseason surrounded by questions about the position. The skepticism is warranted because the 49ers have only gotten a single full season out of Garoppolo since he arrived via midseason trade. When available, Garoppolo has been good enough to help the 49ers compete at an elite level, reaching the Super Bowl in 2019.
The problem, of course, is Garoppolo simply hasn't been available nearly as often as expected from a franchise signal-caller.
The injuries have ranged from ankle to knee ailments, and they've all sidelined Garoppolo for considerable time. With Garoppolo starting, the 49ers are 22-8. Without him, they're 6-17.
The latter, while smaller in total, dominates impressions of the 49ers, especially after a season in which San Francisco was decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Few, if any, were more notable than Garoppolo's, as it left Kyle Shanahan in an unenviable position: attempt to win with Nick Mullens, or turn to C.J. Beathard out of desperation.
Neither is a good business plan for an NFL franchise, no matter how hard Mullens or Beathard tries to will the 49ers to victory. It's a quarterback-driven league, as we all know, and the 49ers need theirs if they want to have a legitimate chance of competing.
The upcoming 2021 season offers Garoppolo another chance to prove he can remain healthy enough to keep his job. If that again proves to be a fruitless effort, though, San Francisco will have no choice but to explore other options. The clock never stops ticking on a regime's tenure, and despite proving their effectiveness as a coaching and personnel duo, Shanahan and Lynch will only get so many chances. They need Garoppolo to carry his share of responsibilities in the new campaign before it's too late.