April 14 (UPI) -- San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk expects Jimmy Garoppolo to start 2021 as his team's quarterback, but he compared the murky situation to when Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith were Kansas City Chiefs teammates.
Garoppolo has been the 49ers' starter since 2017, but has missed the majority of his starts due to injuries over the last four seasons. The seven-year veteran has two years remaining on his contract.
The 49ers have been linked to several other quarterbacks over the last several seasons, but are expected to make the most significant move at the position through the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 49ers acquired the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in a March trade with the Miami Dolphins. They are expected to selected BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields or another top quarterback prospect.
"As it stands now, Jimmy's still on the roster," Juszczyk said. "So, I anticipate that he's most likely going to start the season off for us.
"I don't know [if] that's necessarily the case or not, but it's kind of what I'm envisioning, maybe like the Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes transition. I could see that being feasible, but I don't know."
The Chiefs had Smith on their roster in 2017, the same year they traded up to select Mahomes with the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Smith had been the Chiefs starter for four seasons at the time of the Mahomes selection. Smith started over Mahomes in 2017 and mentored the young quarterback. The Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Football Team the next off-season.
"We're just going to have to take it in stride, and I'm going to support whoever's under center, whether it's Jimmy or a rookie quarterback," Juszczyk said. "I think, either way, we're going to be successful."
The 49ers also confirmed in March that they want a rookie quarterback and a veteran starter on their roster, hinting that they plan to draft top quarterback prospect.
"We're in a situation where when you bring in a rookie quarterback, to me it's always better, especially on the team that you have, you've got a veteran starter there already who you like and you're comfortable winning with," Shanahan told reporters in March.
"That's usually the direction you want to go and not throw someone else out into the fire until they're fully ready."
The 2021 NFL Draft runs from April 29 through May 1 in Cleveland. Draft coverage airs on NFL Network and ESPN.