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Steve Young says 49ers’ quarterback approach has left locker room ‘fraught with terror’ on KNBR



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When the San Francisco 49ers spent three first-round picks and a third-round pick to draft Trey Lance, the message was abundantly clear: Jimmy Garoppolo was not the team’s quarterback of the future.

Many rightfully expected Garoppolo to be traded or for Lance to have won the job by now, but Kyle Shanahan has stuck by Garoppolo as the team, now 2-4, has lost four-straight games.

Steve Young joined the Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks show as he does every week and said the approach of dealing with the quarterback position this way has made it tough on the locker room.

“I give Jimmy a tremendous amount of credit for dealing with this through March, April, May, June, July, and August really well. And into September, really,” Young said. “Better than you can even ask somebody to kind of buck up, go play well, look for your next job, deal with it every day in the locker room. So, it’s been the undercurrent of everything that’s happened in training camp and on. It’s what’s happening at quarterback.

“And the team, the locker room, you guys have heard me talk about the locker room, has its own heartbeat, its own ecosystem, and in 2019, we had the best locker room in the league. And why we went to the Super Bowl was a lot of reasons, but the main reason was the resiliency of that locker room, and the leadership, and the people that came out of it, the people that spoke for it. They dealt with all the problems. They didn’t need the coach to come in and deal with it. They dealt with all the hard things that came up week in and week out.”

Young said because the 49ers are losing and because Lance isn’t playing, things have gotten much more difficult. What happens if they turn to Lance and he struggles like Justin Fields?

That’s the balancing act that Shanahan has to deal with, Young said, of trying to develop Lance and make sure he’s ready, while being careful not to abandon Garoppolo if Lance isn’t ready.

“You can see that the locker room wants to support somebody. Two good guys. This is a Super Bowl roster, and they want that locker room to be cohesive,” Young said. “And this situation has made it very difficult to have a cohesive locker room even though both guys have played their parts really well. They’re not toxic. They’re trying to do the best they can.

So, that’s why I say it’s fraught with terror because you just hope that something positive comes out of Chicago, and if there’s something positive that comes out of Chicago, we can eke out some more weeks through this thing without too much more damage to the season, to Jimmy, to Trey. The more damage that Jimmy has, then we have to move Jimmy, and there’s nothing being offered. Or Trey is damaged because he’s young and hasn’t played well. Now, the season’s over because we’re now 3-8. That’s why it’s fraught with terror.”