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Kyle Shanahan proving he’s in it for the long haul



SANTA CLARA–49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is putting his six-year deal in full force when it comes to bringing along 49ers new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Shanahan even suggested that he might not play Garoppolo this year. Shanahan is obviously taking the long view and he said Wednesday that Garoppolo was not here to save the team’s 0-8 season.

He will not start Garoppolo before it’s time, and that means the newly-traded quarterback will need a decent command of Shanahan’s voluminous playbook before he takes a game-time snap.

“I can’t promise you guys that he won’t play this week,” Shanahan said. “I can’t promise you guys that he won’t play this year. … That’s what I mean by we didn’t do this to save this year. We did this because we feel this will improve our team and our organization. I’m not going to put someone out there who I don’t think will be successful and that starts with the playbook.”

Current quarterback C.J. Beathard said it’s not only a challenge to spit out a mouthful of adjustments, protections and routes in a single play, the quarterback has to understand it all. He also has to instill confidence to the players in the huddle that he knows what he’s talking about.

No one really knows how long it will take Garoppolo. He didn’t have a playbook at Eastern Illinois, and he had the luxury of learning for three seasons behind veteran Tom Brady before he started his first game.

One reason why Shanahan was hired was because of his ability to game plan and be an excellent game day play-caller. He has a reputation on building from one play to another. But that takes an intimate knowledge of the playbook and a quarterback who is steeped in what Shanahan is trying to do.

The ability to learn and digest what Shanahan wants is the key to excelling in his system.

Shanahan could trot Garoppolo out there with a trimmed down playbook, but that won’t give him or the team a true evaluation of how Garoppolo will play as his quarterback.

Players say the playbook has already been trimmed back to accommodate rookie C.J. Beathard and the injuries that have ravaged the offensive line. And it’s likely if and when Garoppolo does start, it will be with a somewhat limited cast of plays.

Nevertheless, Garoppolo needs the basics to get this offense off the ground, and Shanahan won’t put him in the game with nothing less.