PHOENIX -- Being on Injured Reserve can be a lonely place. Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, was around the team facility almost every day following his knee surgery. But there was only so much he could do.
Kyle Shanahan knew he'd have limited time to be able to spend with Garoppolo. Even former quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello struggled to find time to keep Garoppolo sharp during his rehab process. It was hard to take a step back from game planning to work with a player who wouldn't be active on gameday.
"It was frustrating because Jimmy is our guy, and all I want to do is work with him, but we had to prepare all of these other quarterbacks each week when we're game planning," Shanahan said.
It turned out that there's a benefit to being part of a football family. Shanahan's parents visited during the month of December for the holidays, and the San Francisco 49ers head coach turned to his father, Mike, for a solution. Mike ended up coming into the facility to sit with Garoppolo and watch tape.
Mike, a two-time Super Bowl winning head coach with the Denver Broncos, spent a bulk of the month hanging out with the 49ers franchise quarterback. For Garoppolo, it was a valuable resource to bounce ideas and observations off of. For Mike, it was an escape from the grandkids.
"My dad was here for Christmas and it was like, 'Would you like to get away from the kids and go watch ball?' And he was like, 'Yes, thank you,'" Shanahan said. "I think they really enjoyed it. It started off small, but they ended up doing it every day for a couple of weeks."
Mike spent two decades as an NFL head coach and is regarded, much like his son, as an offensive guru.
“I didn’t want just anyone to talk to Jimmy about football," Shanahan said. "I wanted somebody who knew what he’s talking about."
Shanahan reiterated that the interactions were "not a big deal," but he conceded that it was beneficial for Garoppolo to have a sounding board of Mike's caliber.
"They would just turn on games and watch stuff and just talk," Shanahan said. "It wasn't him teaching our offense or anything, it was just enjoying having a football guy to talk to instead of the trainers.
"I think my dad enjoyed it, too. He loves talking football so it was neat."
Garoppolo continues to train at the SAP Performance Facility. Shanahan said he's working on his drop backs and is already throwing. Garoppolo is on track to participate in OTAs and be a full go come training camp.