Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have a San Francisco 49er playbook three weeks ago. TechnicallyJimmy was still on the team all pre-season, but spiritually he wasn’t. In the midst of training camp, Garoppolo spoke awkwardly with his team’s new quarterback coach, Brian Grace, according to NBC’s Peter King. Even in late August, Garoppolo was reported to be throwing outside while his teammates were at meetings, and indoors (or at home) while his teammates were outside training. It was clear that the 49ers were so confident they would cut or trade Garoppolo before the season that they were more concerned about him spying on the company than they were about being able to carry out their crimes.
Fast forward a few weeks and Trey Lance, the sophomore quarterback chosen to be San Francisco’s future quarterback, will miss the season with a broken ankle after just five quarters of football. Jimmy J will lead Team 49 against the Denver Broncos Sunday Night Football This week, he’s once again in possession of a starting job in San Francisco – and a game brochure.
49ers odds of winning the Super Bowl to improve After this news, he went from 20 to 1 with Lance to 18 to 1 with Garoppolo. But in the long run – hell, in After this season Term – Quarterback status in the 49ers is as muddled as before. After this year, Garoppolo can leave as an unrestricted free agent. Lance will be one year away from qualifying for a contract extension. The 49ers may be forced to choose between trying to get Garoppolo back (again), or committing to Lance even though he only had four professional starts after starting only 17 at FCS level in college. Anything short of a Super Bowl victory this season would leave the 49ers in a situation much bleaker than what they’ve been through this year — and with no clue how to handle it.
There is no doubt that the 49ers are better with Garoppolo in the short term. Since Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took charge of the team in 2017, his performances with and without Garoppolo has made the difference between being a Super Bowl contender and one of the worst in the league. Since Shanahan became head coach, San Francisco scored when Garoppolo started 35-16 (including the playoffs). Their record without Garoppolo is 9-29.
San Francisco’s win percentage with Garoppolo is 69 percent, which would be the third best player in the NFL since 2017. Without him, 49 players won less than a quarter of their games, which would be the worst mark in the NFL in that period. With him, Shanahan’s 49ers have had the same winning percentage as the Rams (and Garoppolo is 6-1 against the Sean McVeigh Rams). Without Jimmy G, the 49ers would have been worse than the Jets.
But the 49 winners who won many matches should not be confused with Jimmy Jimmy Win many games. It’s more than just a passenger riding a gun in a cool car. Garoppolo was good at executing Shanahan’s crime, but he’s not good at doing anything beyond what’s in the instruction manual.
In fact, it often seemed that Garoppolo had stopped San Francisco. 49 players pulled off a miraculous upset over the Packers in the playoffs last year mainly due to his stifling defense and dominance of special teams; Garoppolo only threw for 131 yards. The following week, Garoppolo threw a late interception in the NFC Championship game, helping to lose 49 players on a trip to the Super Bowl. His decisive throw came two years ago when he knocked out Emmanuel Sanders in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl against the Chiefs in February 2020. Had he completed that pass, it’s fair to assume that 49 players would have won that game. But even in the NFC title game two weeks earlier, Garoppolo threw only eight passes in a dominant 37-20 win over the Packers. Garoppolo is basically a realist Vincent footnote: A necessary character for the show, but she is more than a central mentor to the talented stars and spectators around him.
But Garoppolo’s biggest limitation wasn’t his ability; It was available. He’s suffered injury in four of the six seasons he’s played in the NFL (he even got injured in 2016, when he was working to stop Tom Brady). He’s missed the double-digit games twice in his forty-ninth run. Last year, he dealt with thumb and shoulder injuries late in the season and was far from 100 percent in the playoffs. The 49ers wanted to move on from Jimmy G largely because of his health, but it was his health that forced them to keep him.
Garoppolo decided to have shoulder surgery in early March – which surprised 49ers officials – and no teams wanted to replace the newly-surgery QB on his shoulder.
Garoppolo’s health has always been his biggest problem. A few weeks after the 49ers drafted Lance in 2021, Lynch went on the Colin Cord radio show and relayed how he explained the decision to Garoppolo.
“Jimmy, when you were playing, you were great,” Lynch said. “The most important thing is that it’s hard to keep you on the field.”
Enter Lance. The 49 players traded for the Lance in the 2021 draft, using the first three rounds and the third round to get it. The idea was that he could solve the two Garoppolo problems of the 49ers. Lance had the chance of becoming a better pure passer than Garoppolo, but he also brought the ability to rush out to a 6-foot-4, 225-pound QB who reportedly ran for a mid-4.5 40 yards—roughly the same time as 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk. With Lance in Shanahan’s system, the upside seemed unusual. Lance was a development prospect, and his rookie year plan was to sit behind Jimmy and learn – and eventually replace him in 2022 and beyond. If Garoppolo is injured in the meantime, Lance can advance. Lance has yet to solve any of the 49ers’ quarterback problems. He hasn’t allowed the 49ers to switch over from Garoppolo, stay healthy enough to be a backup, or get time to develop into a better start than the man he was asked to replace.
Ultimately, the 49ers will need to know what they’re going to do after this season. If Garoppolo plays well – and conceivably the 49ers can perform another deep playoff thanks to their loaded defense and offensive experience, with players like Trent Williams, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel – the team may be tempted to bring him back in 2023 but unless Garoppolo is hurt (which is certainly possible) or playing terribly this year, there’s no reason to go back to tackle this whole circus again. So the 49ers would need to stick with Jimmy as the rookie and pay a lot of money for him to come back. But doing so meant San Francisco had basically only eyed the Lance four from the start of his career. The 49ers probably won’t actually write the Lance off as a big expense, so Garoppolo is probably gone.
But if handing a championship-caliber team to Lens in 2022 seems like a calculated risk, doing it again next season would be intimidating. The 49ers are ready to win Currently. Lance is not. The term “raw” is used a lot with prospective clients, but it’s worth paraphrasing the few football games Lance has played. Only 21 began separating him from his high school career in Marshall, Minnesota, a small town about 40 miles from the South Dakota border. Played 16 games in FCS North Dakota State in 2019; He came out that season, when he threw 28 touchdowns and no interceptions in 16 games for Bison, and here’s how his other four seasons have ended in the past five years:
2018 (North Dakota): Threw a single pass as a freshman.
2020 (North Dakota): I played one game as a sophomore because NDSU canceled its season due to COVID. The game was basically a show and how Lance played in front of the NFL scouts.
2021 (49sec): He started two games in place of Garoppolo, but played with a broken finger, which forced him to change his throwing method.
2022 (49ers): He played five quarters before breaking his ankle in Week 2. Four of those quarters were rendered meaningless by heavy rain in Chicago that day until paint washed off the field.
To sum up, over the past four years, Lance has had an entire season as a North Dakota State rookie in FCS, and in the other three seasons, he has barely had four games of real football experience. Lance threw 102 passes in his NFL career. Jets QB Joe Flacco has thrown 103 assists in the first two weeks of this season alone. Since dropping out of high school, Lance has thrown 420 passes in games. Trevor Lawrence, who was selected twice before Lance, more than tripled – 1546 – in the same period.
Imagine you’re a San Francisco 49ers player and need to commit to entering the Lance in 2023. After that year – which would be his first real season as a rookie – he would be eligible for a contract extension, and the 49ers would need to make a decision on roughly $20 million. The fifth year option, and his cheap decade years are almost over.
All of these issues are complex. Not only is Lance still trying to learn the NFL game, but next season he will be recovering from a major ankle injury. Shanahan’s plan to bring in Lance was to build on his strength as a runner and work the concepts down slowly as the defenses tried to stop the 49ers’ racing game. But will Lance be able to run as much in 2023? And will his power as the bitterness of a deer in the headlights make him enter the highest level of competition he has ever faced with less movement than ever before?
It’s too early to declare Lance bankrupt. He could turn out to be a super player with a slow start to his career. Injuries are not easy to predict, and from 20/20 in hindsight it was a mistake for the 49ers to trade so much in order to rise to the Lance.
Having said that, the 49 prospective first-round electives (plus a third) traded to trade the twelfth-choice down. 3 Pick and Take the Lance in 2021 – using three first and third runs to pick him. But the 2021 pick that was traded ended up with Dallas, who used it along with Micah Parsons, an early candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
We can keep two things in our mind at once. Lance’s trade may go on to produce the Super Bowls of San Francisco. But it may also hurt that fans of the 49ers realize their team could only have taken Parsons in 2021, paired him with defensive end Nick Bosa, and perhaps the NFC Super Bowl favorite at the moment — and could have beaten the Rams in a championship game. NFC last year too.
The 49ers are back where they were before the Lance trade – all in Jimmy Garoppolo for the win Currently. But the whole idea behind the Lance trade was for the 49ers to strike a balance between success in the short and long term. Trying to do both, the forty-nine players might have ended up in either one.
While Lance’s priority is to recover from surgery and his QB development plan is on hold, Garoppolo’s next role begins Sunday night – and he has a lot at stake. Obviously, Jimmy’s victory in the Super Bowl would be a complete proof of his entire career. But even if he doesn’t win a championship this year, Garoppolo can prove a lot by staying healthy. If he could, a team would surely take a pilot on him, and since he’s an unrestricted free agent, he could land a surprisingly big contract like Kirk Cousins got him from Minnesota. Keep in mind that his 2022 performance will overpay Carolina in Free Agency.
Garoppolo will likely make the 49ers look better against Denver on Sunday than San Francisco’s performance in the past two weeks. But given how cloudy the San Francisco situation is after this season, there is a new urgency for a team that switches from developmental QB to chartered QB within a week. If San Francisco is powerless, or if some of its players aren’t on the same page, everyone involved may regret wasting all that time in August.
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