Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Ex-bitter 49ers rival reveals the QB he’s targeting

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Prior to Monday Night Football and before becoming part of Fox’s America’s Game of the Week broadcast team, Troy Aikman once led the Dallas Cowboys in bitter battles with the San Francisco 49ers for NFL supremacy in the 1990s.

Aikman still remains fixated on the 49ers — when he’s on the broadcast booth with longtime play-by-play partner Joe Buck whenever they both called a 49ers game for Fox’s coverage.

Cowboys legend Aikman has seen his share of 49ers quarterbacks from standing in Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick to now Jimmy Garoppolo. Soon, he and Buck will name two 49er games — this time in their first season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Signs still suggest the 49ers will usher in a new era behind the center when Trey Lance, the first all-rounder of 2021, takes the reins of QB.

However, the Hall of Famer quarterback revealed which quarterback he “really wants” in a conference call Monday, May 16 via the San Jose Mercury News’ Cam Inman.

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Aikman first explained that he doesn’t know the exact reasons behind Garoppolo’s upcoming future with the 49ers. Garoppolo was the subject of trade grumblings after Lance was drafted but remained on the 49ers’ roster with mandatory minicamp imminent. However, Jimmy G remains a possible veteran for the Carolina Panthers, mentioned by Heavy on 49ers reporter Evan Reier.

Aikman has seen enough of Garoppolo’s games to make the case that he takes a liking to him… and feels he has a crush on him.

“I love what he could do. He’s won a lot of games,” Aikman said during the call. “I don’t know what that looks like. But if Jimmy is the guy to play, he’s proven what he’s capable of. And I have to say that I’m also a big fan of his because of the way he handled everything. It was amazing. If he’s in San Francisco and gets to play, I hope he’s great. And if he gets a chance to go somewhere else, I hope he lights it up because you can tell he’s a really good person. I really draw for him.”

Aikman cheers for Garoppolo. But he also has high praise for Lance. Aikman had a chance to test Lance and his QB skills last season.

“The quarterback situation is interesting. I saw (Lance) last year after he came in and played. I studied him,” Aikman said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to play in the game we had late in the season (Week 18 with the Rams) or not and I saw some things that made you realize that this guy is why where he was taken (No. 3 overall, 2021 draft), then at other times you saw a young quarterback who still had a lot of growth ahead of him. This off-season and how he’s used it will go a long way in determining what kind of success he’ll have.”

Aikman admits he has yet to start a conversation with the third overall winner of last year’s draft. However, he has spoken to people close to Lance — most notably 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan — who rave about him.

“I don’t know Trey. I haven’t met him. But from what I’m hearing, and talking to Kyle, there’s a reason they put him where they went,” Aikman said. “They are betting on the upward trend. I guess he’s working extremely hard this offseason to give himself the best chance of success.

“I would say considering he’s a young player but with the style they run, with the running game and ability to play defense, it doesn’t get any better for a young quarterback,” Aikman continued. “These are things that really benefit them. Now I really hope Deebo Samuel is back if I were him (Lance).”

Aikman has concluded that he is a fan of another prominent member of the 49ers.

“I’m happy that we have San Francisco for these games. I’m a huge fan of Kyle Shanahan,” Aikman said. “I love what they do offensively. I love the style they play. It reminds me a lot of the teams I was a part of and I really enjoyed how they fared last year. I’ve said it before, if I were a general manager and could hire every head coach in the league now, Kyle Shanahan would be the guy I would probably hire.

“I’m happy that we have San Francisco for these games. I’m a huge fan of Kyle Shanahan,” Aikman said. “I love what they do offensively. I love the style they play. It reminds me a lot of the teams I was a part of and I really enjoyed how they fared last year. I’ve said it before, if I were a general manager and could hire every head coach in the league now, Kyle Shanahan would be the guy I would probably hire.

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