An offseason saga came and went without Jimmy Garoppolo leaving San Francisco, either by trade or outright release. Two weeks into the 2022 regular season, that outcome looks like a very fortunate one for the 49ers.
Garoppolo found himself under center on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, after a broken ankle took second-year starting quarterback Trey Lance out of the game on the team’s second drive. Garoppolo entered the game after Lance was carted off and led the 49ers to a 27-7 victory. With Lance’s season finished — coach Kyle Shanahan said Lance will undergo surgery Monday — Garoppolo will have plenty of chances to do the same in the weeks ahead.
The move is an obvious blow to the 49ers’ plan moving forward, which was to contend while Lance went through his first season as the team’s quarterback of the future. But in terms of making a playoff run this season, the injury doesn’t necessarily ruin San Francisco’s odds. Some feel it could even enhance them.
“No question, just by how they called plays, (Lance) is not ready,” said The 33rd Team analyst Mike Martz. “It takes time. The transition for him is hard from where he came (North Dakota State).”
Said The 33rd Team’s Greg Jennings: “They ended up keeping him on their roster, reconstructing his contract, and this is why: Because you know you have an opportunity to make a run at a Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo moving forward, we will see what it looks like. But for right now? I guarantee you everyone in that locker room is nodding their head in agreement because he gives them the best chance to win right now.”
The quarterback who San Francisco initially tried to trade went 13-of-21 for 154 yards in relief on Sunday, throwing 1 touchdown and rushing for another. Garoppolo owns a 35-16 career record as the 49ers’ starter since 2016 and has led the team to within nine minutes of a Super Bowl LIV title, and last season’s NFC Championship Game.
“Just like riding a bike. It felt good to be back out there,” Garoppolo said during a postgame press conference. “I’ve been a backup before. You don’t get the reps during the week, you just have to get the mental reps and make the best of it. I was ready for this in case it did happen, and just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”
There’s no doubt Garoppolo can win in the NFL, but the question that still remains is can he win it all?
“It shows why they kept Jimmy G,” said The 33rd Team analyst Samari Rolle. “I think Jimmy G is good enough for the situation. If you need him to make a play to win the game, then I don’t think he’s the guy. But if you need a guy that can win you some games on the road, win some close games, then he’s that guy.”