Jimmy Garoppolo gets another chance to earn the trust of 49 players

Jimmy Garoppolo is the sexiest quarterback in the NFL this side of Tom Brady. But in at least the past two seasons, when they looked at Garoppolo, the San Francisco 49ers saw the picture only as negative.

Their focus was not on what Garoppolo could do, but what he couldn’t.

He doesn’t have Juggs for his right arm, and his passes leave no traces of vapor. He prefers to blend into the background rather than be a commanding voice. His running ability doesn’t frighten the defenses. At Super Bowl LIV against Kansas City, as Patrick Mahomes began to dominate, Garoppolo seemed to shrink.

The 49ers responded in 2021 by trading three first-round picks to move up and take North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance for third overall. The team was determined to move on from Garoppolo, but was unsuccessful in attempts to trade him off this season.

Situations can quickly turn in football, and there was a dramatic reversal with 49 players. After Lance suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in the first quarter last Sunday against Seattle, Garoppolo stepped in – with almost no preparation – and helped guide San Francisco to a 27-7 win.

Instead of counting on Brock Purdy, a seventh-round rookie, the 49ers have a 31-14-year-old quarterback as their starter and help them reach the Super Bowl after the 2019 season and the NFC Championship game last season.

Given that he had shoulder surgery in March, had no spring ball, and threw alone a side court away from the rest of the squad at training camp, it’s remarkable that Garoppolo can make such a smooth transition back onto the field.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan played down the idea that the rules of the game had changed so drastically for the more mobile Lance, though it seemed strange to many to see Garoppolo holding on to the ball in these reading trails.

“We put in all the same things last year as well, so the difference isn’t as big as people think,” the coach said this week. “You’re running the exact same runs. Just do you want to ride a gun and read someone, or do you want to hand it over and not read it? It doesn’t change as much as people think.”

Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is back as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started last week against the Seattle Seahawks due to a season-ending ankle injury suffered by Tre Lance.

(Lachlan Cunningham/The Associated Press)

It’s early days, but the pieces are ready for Garoppolo to save the season for the 49ers, who will play prime-time matches in the next two weeks. They are in Denver Sunday night and host the Rams Monday night in Week 4.

Just a few weeks ago, Garoppolo signed a reduced deal to stay with the team as backup. His old contract would have paid him $24.2 million this season. His new product pays him a guaranteed $6.5 million with a chance to earn up to $16 million depending on playing time. With his performance on Sunday, he earned an additional $350,000 for playing at least 25% of the picks in a 49-time win.

“You couldn’t ask for a better position now if you were Jimmy Garoppolo,” said GT O’Sullivan, who now hosts a digital platform, QB School, where he analyzes the center back and his performances.

“Just an opportunity to play on that kind of roster, with that kind of expectation for that organization. … But it’s worth admitting that the problems remain. Whatever the 49ers think of the reasons they needed to drop him, these issues remain.” .

Shanahan’s decision to switch from Garoppolo is somewhat reminiscent of Sean McVeigh’s switch of the Rams from Jared Goff. These offensive coaches saw lost yards and explosive plays that weren’t happening, and those voids began to overshadow the good things that these psychics could do.

While it is difficult to say when the Garoppolo concept began to change, the 2019 qualifiers are a good place to start. He made some poor throws in a 27-10 win over Minnesota on the Divisional Tour and was basically handcuffed the following week in an NFC title match against Green Bay. He threw the ball only eight times in a 37-20 victory over the Packers. Then came the Super Bowl, a show for the Mahomes.

Not long after that, the 49ers were relishing the idea of ​​signing Tom Brady. (Garoppolo began his NFL career as a backup for Brady in New England.) He paved the way for San Francisco’s big move in the 2021 draft trade to pick Lance.

Garoppolo got the rock star treatment when he joined the 49ers through a deal during the 2017 season and closed the year by winning his first five starts. He suffered a knee injury in Week 3 of the following season, however, he was sidelined for the rest of the year. Swing the pendulum in one direction and then the other.

Now, he has a chance to redefine himself once more. However, some onlookers will need some convincing.

“Elite quarterbacks can take it on their shoulders and create at critical moments,” O’Sullivan said. “Up until this point, he hasn’t. More than anything, I’m upset with Trey Lance, and I’m upset with the 49ers crowd. I’m excited about Jimmy Garoppolo having this opportunity, but it looks like we’ve read this book.”

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