“I believe Matt is an elite quarterback,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “Matt was the third pick in the draft [in 2008]. He’s played a lot of good football. But being an elite quarterback also has to do with the people around you. Nobody is elite on their own.”
Ryan, 31, isn’t consumed with outside perception. It’s been his motto to block out the noise. However, he’s not totally immune to it. It annoys him, to a degree.
“I think a lot of times, maybe it affects some of the people around you more than it affects you, and that part of it isn’t fun,” the typically reserved Ryan said. “Obviously, when your wife is pissed off about something, that part of it isn’t fun.”
Criticism has mounted, in large part, as a result of Ryan’s financial status. He enters the 2016 season as one of 11 quarterbacks averaging $20 million-plus per season. Eight of the 11 — Cam Newton, Joe Flacco, Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Rodgers and Roethlisberger — have made it to the Super Bowl, with the latter seven winning titles. And two of the others — Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck — have four and three playoffs wins, respectively, so more than Ryan.
When a quarterback is set to make more than $100 million over a five-year period and eats up more than $20 million in cap space each of the next three seasons, the standards are raised.
“It’s kind of the going rate,” Ryan said of the $100 million plateau. “That’s not to be funny or anything. As you see now, we play our position and we go out and compete, and this is what I’ve done since 13 — played quarterback. It’s never been about [money]. I’m not complaining. [Money] is just one of the things that come along with it. With that comes added criticism, and there’s a certain expectation.
“What I need to do is do my job as best I can and not worry about what everyone else thinks about what you’re getting paid. This is something that comes up for every quarterback. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect the outcome of games. For me, the things that are important are the things that affect the outcome of games. That’s what I focus on.”
Ryan signed his contract in July 2013, well before the Falcons experienced a dramatic freefall. They’ve missed the playoffs the past three seasons while compiling an 18-30 mark. Ryan surpassing 4,500 passing yards in each of those seasons didn’t really matter in the grand scheme.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers are two weeks and one game into their preseason, and the quarterback competition between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have much in the way of clarity.
Gabbert started and had an up-and-down performance in Sunday’s 24-13 loss to the Houston Texans, while Kaepernick still is recovering from the right shoulder fatigue that kept him from throwing in two practices and the preseason opener.
But as training camp practices melt away, the best chances for one quarterback to gain separation do too. Which makes this week perhaps the most critical of the entire training camp when it comes to figuring out who will be playing the most important position in the game for the Niners in 2016.
49ers coach Chip Kelly often has pointed to the preseason games as integral milestones in the competition, and the same is true of the team’s three scheduled joint practices with opponents. While the day-to-day work in practice matters, it only goes up a notch when there’s another team on the other side.
This week brings two practices against the Broncos in Denver on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by Saturday’s preseason contest between the teams. One of the primary reasons the 49ers held Kaepernick out of Sunday’s game was to give him a chance to be ready to play this week in Denver.
“Colin isn’t 100 percent and it wouldn’t have been fair to put him in and judge him in a competition,” Kelly said. “We’re just trying to get him healthy and see if we can get him ready for this week against Denver.”