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Despite liking Zach Wilson, Steve Young cautions 49ers moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo



© Kyle Terada | 2020 Oct 11

The grass isn’t always greener, even if it looks really, really green from where you’re standing.

That’s how it looks to many 49ers fans salivating at the prospect of drafting a quarterback in April, notably BYU’s Zach Wilson, who recently said in an interview that he could see himself fitting in well in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

It’s enough to make eyes roll back into collective heads, specifically the ones that have seen enough of Jimmy Garoppolo, on those occasions when he’s able to take the field.

But former 49ers quarterback Steve Young pumped the brakes on being so gung-ho about replacing Garoppolo when he joined KNBR for his weekly chat on Wednesday. Young is a huge fan of Wilson and not just because they share an alma mater. Young believes Wilson has flashes of some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks — notably Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen — and has the disposition of a player who only thrives in high-pressure situation.

Yet Young has concerns with moving one from someone who is good for the hope of landing someone who is great. It’s something the 49ers should be very cautious of in his estimation.

“What you have with Zach is a young kind of figuring it out,” Young said on “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks.”” It feels like he has that settledness on the field like Patrick Mahomes. I’m not saying they are the same. It feels like the more you put on him, the more you broaden the field, it feels like the more he thrives. And that’s not usual.

“Usually, it’s the opposite, and people have to grow into that space. You’ve seen Josh Allen have to grow into that space whereas Patrick Mahomes showed up ready for it. Usually there’s some time but once they get going, you can see where Josh Allen, he’s not topping out. You can see he’s getting better and better and how good will he be? I feel like Zach’s got that potential (to get better), that he won’t top out real quickly.

“The truth of the matter is, and we’ve talked about this before, the college game and the pro game are very similar now,” Young said. “And so the offense that Zach Wilson ran at BYU is the offense that he’ll run in San Francisco. It will be very familiar to him. It’s very familiar if he goes to a number of teams, and that’s true for Trevor Lawrence. These guys should be able to enter and have success much faster than in the old days.”

The Niners drafting Wilson and him being everything Young describes is the best case scenario. The worst case? Young cites the 49ers letting Rickey Watters walk in 1994, and not being able to replace him.

“It’s the foolishness of thinking that the grass is greener,” Young said. “The classic, ‘Well, we can fix that. We can do better.’ My sense is that Kyle is frustrated and would like to upgrade at quarterback, but the fact is that Jimmy is a good player. We don’t know that we’ve seen the most of Jimmy yet. If he stays healthy and can get better and better.

“So, Kyle’s going to make a tough call, and my sense of it, when Jimmy got hurt a couple of months ago, was Kyle’s going to work hard to upgrade the position. But you’ve got to be careful because then you end up where we were when we said Ricky (Watters) can go to Philadelphia. Well, that didn’t work. That’s a bad move.”

“It’s a cautionary tale because of how much I wish we hadn’t let that happen.”

Listen to the full interview below.