The 49ers drew a pair of “Monday Night Football” games this coming season, and that packs both excitement and intrigue for ESPN’s new booth of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
That duo, through two previous decades together for Fox Sports, knows the 49ers in-depth. They’ll be calling a Week 4 game against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 3 at Levi’s Stadium, as well as a Nov. 21 game in Mexico City against the Arizona Cardinals.
Here is how ESPN’s “pie in the sky” pairing views the 49ers:
Aikman, when asked what he expects from the 49ers’ quarterback situation and Trey Lance’s expected succession of Jimmy Garoppolo:
“I’m excited we have San Francisco for those games. I’m a big fan of Kyle Shanahan. I love what they do offensively. I love the style that they play. It reminds me a lot of the teams that I was a part of, and really enjoyed the way they came on last year. I’ve said it before, if I was a general manager and could hire any head coach in the league right now, Kyle Shanahan would be the guy I’d probably hire.
“The quarterback situation is interesting. I watched (Lance) last year after he came in and played. I studied him. I was unsure of whether or not he’d play in the game we had late in the season (Week 18 at the Rams), and I saw some things that made you realize that, hey, this is why this guy was taken where he was (No. 3 overall, 2021 draft), then you saw at other times you saw a young quarterback that had a lot of growth left ahead of him. This offseason and how he’s used it is going to go a long way into what kind of success he’s going to have.
“I don’t know Trey. I’ve not met him. But from everything I hear, and in talking with Kyle, there’s a reason why they took him where they did. They’re betting on the upside. My guess he’s working extremely hard this offseason, to give himself the best opportunity for success.
“I will say, given that he’s a young player, but with the style that they run, with the running game and ability to play defense, it doesn’t get any better for a young quarterback. Those are things that really play into their favor. Now, I really hope that Deebo Samuel is back, if I were him.
“But I don’t know the Jimmy Garoppolo situation. I love what he’s been able to do. He’s won a lot of games. I don’t know how that looks. But if Jimmy’s the guy playing, he’s proven what he’s capable of doing. And I will say I’m a big fan of his as well; for the way how he handled everything, it was incredible. If he’s in San Francisco and gets to play, I hope he’s amazing. And if he gets a chance to go somewhere else, I hope he lights it up, because you can just tell he’s a really good person. I’m really pulling for him.”
Pretty awesome seeing the ESPN mic flag in the hands of @Buck & @TroyAikman. Our new #MNF booth duo is participating in a media call now on a busy first visit for them to our Bristol campus. pic.twitter.com/CQhhDI2xep
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) May 16, 2022
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Buck, when asked on what he’s most curious about with the 49ers:
“At the end of the year last year, you can make the case Deebo Samuel was the most valuable player in the NFL, certainly the most dynamic for what he was doing in games. We got ready for a bunch of their games, so we got a lot of time with Kyle. His production meetings with us are just off the charts. He’s very open, very honest. He talked with us about the quarterback situation.
“I personally don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Jimmy Garoppolo automatically gets shipped out. They’re too good. They’re too ready to win right now, with the way they finished last year, coming up just shy in an (NFC) championship game. Now you’ve got to start the clock back over with a young quarterback.
“I just hope, like Troy said, that Deebo is there. He’s a special guy, really fun to talk with. I know there’s a lot of speculation that he doesn’t like how he’s being used. When he talked to us, he didn’t mind the running back stuff, said sometimes he comes out of games less sore than when he comes out of games when he’s just split out or just playing the role of a wide receiver.
“I hope that team we saw at the end of the year is back together, because they’re fun to watch. They’re fun to cover. They’re really well-coached. And they can make a legitimate claim, in my opinion, to being one of the top teams in the NFC and see what happens in the playoffs.
“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Garoppolo is out of there. If he is, it’s a lot on Trey, but he’s got a good man putting a game plan together to make it as easy a transition as he can make it.”