Most of the offseason, San Francisco 49ers players spent time defending quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, saying all the right things about their teammate and his ability to bounce back from another injury-plagued season.
Then the Niners swung a trade for the No. 3 overall pick to draft a quarterback, putting Garoppolo's future even more in peril in San Francisco than it was three weeks ago.
Unsurprisingly, veterans who unwaveringly supported Garoppolo have immediately had to temper their comments, knowing a highly drafted signal-caller is on his way to the Bay.
"As it stands now, Jimmy's still on the roster," Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk said on a recent episode of the Fantasy Footballers podcast. "So, I anticipate that he's most likely going to start the season off for us. Don't know that's necessarily the case or not, but it's kind of what I'm envisioning, maybe like the Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes transition. I could see that being feasible, but I don't know. We're just going to have to take it in stride, and I'm going to support whoever's under center, whether it's Jimmy or a rookie quarterback. I think, either way, we're going to be successful."
Earlier this offseason, Juszczyk said he believed Jimmy G would be the 49ers starting quarterback and spoke glowingly about how the veteran doesn't hear the outside noise regarding his future.
Garoppolo can't help but hear the clatter now.
The blockbuster draft trade seemed to catch veterans like Juszczyk off guard.
"It definitely was a little bit of a surprise, and it came with a little bit of excitement, but also a little bit of unsureness just because it's so hard to predict what rookies are going to be able to do and how their game translates," Juszczyk said, via 49ers Webzone. "And you definitely get the excitement of the No. 3 pick. You're getting a top-tier talent. You're getting somebody that is coveted around the league, somebody special, especially in this year's quarterback draft class. Some really special talent there.
"So, excited about that, but like I said, you never know how it's going to translate. And also, just from the personal side, Jimmy has been a great friend and a great teammate. When he's healthy, he's been a great player for us. You feel different ways about that, but, at the end of the day, as a player, you just have to put all your faith into Kyle (Shanahan) and (John) Lynch, that they're making the best decision for the team."
Since making the trade, the 49ers brass has suggested Garoppolo remains in the team's plans in 2021. How long that lasts depends on many factors, including the veteran's ability to stay healthy and how swiftly the rookie picks up Shanahan's offense. There also remains a possibility that down the road, a QB injury elsewhere or other unforeseen circumstances, could lead to the 49ers eventually trading Jimmy G.
Whenever the transition occurs, it's clear that the Niners have alternative plans for the future under center. As such, San Francisco players are necessarily tweaking their responses to the QB question.