Heroes and saviors came in different ways. It varies from a parent, older sibling, a celebrity, or some heavenly entity. In the case of the San Francisco 49ers it came in the form of a New England Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo.
For years, the 49ers were going on a downward slope. There was literally no one on the field who could have guided the Niners to a winning season, ever since 2012. They exercised every option, until it was rumored that the 2014 Patriots quarterback draftee was to be a free agent.
In came lord and savior Jimmy Jesus. Late into the 2017 Season, the Niners traded for Garoppolo. The apparent heir to Tom Brady was set to craft his own legacy. Things started off good, as Garoppolo led the already eliminated Niners to five straight wins, to cap off the season. So, the future looked promising.
Five Seasons of Injuries
2018 started with an immediate L, with probable reconsideration on having acquired Garoppolo in the first place. Garoppolo threw three interceptions, in the Vikings 24-16 trashing of the Niners. After recovering the following game, against the Detroit Lions, there was hope again. During the Kansas City Chiefs’ beating of the Niners, Garoppolo tore his ACL, thus sidelining him for the rest of the season.
The following year we saw a completely revamped and unrecognizable squad. Jimmy Jesus led his team to nine straight wins, to begin the 2019 Season, along with a trip to Super Bowl 54 against the Chiefs. Yes the Chiefs won that match. But, 2019 wasn’t a straight forward path to success. The torn ACL in his knee made its presence known. It definitely made Garoppolo less mobile, and more prone to mistakes. And they came in the worst possible times.
2020 was easily worse. Against the bottom of the barrel New York Jets, Garoppolo suffered another injury. Garoppolo didn’t suit up against the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles, until Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins. Another bad decision. The Dolphins effortlessly beat the Niners. Before the end of the season, Garoppolo injured his ankle, and was placed on injury reserve.
Now in boiling water, Garoppolo had another chance at redemption. The Niners made the playoffs last year. Again, it wasn’t easy getting there. Early in the season, Garoppolo injured his calf. Rookie Trey Lance was able to see some playing time, as Garoppolo missed several games, before returning to send his team to the postseason. Ultimately, in the NFC Championship Game, the LA Rams got the win, after a game ending interception from Garoppolo.
This year the Niners were expected to not have Garoppolo on the roster. Regardless, after contract negotiations, Garoppolo stayed, as the backup to Trey Lance. Painful was the best way to describe how 2022 started. In Week 2, Lance broke his ankle to end his season. Garoppolo stepped in again. By some miracle, he had a pretty decent showing until Week 13, against the Miami Dolphins. In the first quarter, Garoppolo injured his ankle, and it forced third string QB Brock Purdy to receive the torch.
Carried by the Defense in 2021
2021 was an elite season for the Niners. In midst of the Niners dominance, Garoppolo didn’t look half bad. He had some pretty good games, and doubt wasn’t that big of a deal. Still. All you had to do looks just a bit deeper, and you’ll see why the Niners reached the postseason. Shannahan assembled the best defense in the league, and most teams that faced them were unfortunate to do so. If it wasn’t for the defense manhandling offenses, Garoppolo probably wouldn’t have taken a snap. That is arguably a good thing, as Garoppolo has a history of throwing brutal interceptions or stalling in the pocket, before getting sacked.
The best example is in the NFC Divisional Round, against the Green Bay Packers. The Niners’ 13-10 victory featured not a single offensive touchdown. Just imagine what would have been of the Niners, without that defense.
Possibly the Biggest Steal this Offseason
It’s no mystery that Garoppolo is heading into free agency. Shanahan has no intentions of resigning Jimmy G. Again, Jimmy G is not a bad quarterback. In a time in which the NFL is seeing a new generation of quarterbacks, Jimmy G can’t be seen as the future for any team. But, there is something priceless that Garoppolo brings to the table. Veteran experience. This can prove to be beneficial for any team in a rebuilding process. The Niners are literally putting a valuable asset up for grabs. One team best fitted for Garoppolo is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are in a new era, after having Tom Brady for three seasons. Jimmy G can potentially make this his permanent home, considering the tools are there for success. It’s a stretch to say the Bucs will win a Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo, but you never know what other internal and external factors will contribute to this potential move. Another suitable candidate is the Cleveland Browns. They have shown interest in Garoppolo in the past. This shouldn’t be any different. The Browns are willing to take anyone who can improve their chances on their first postseason run, since 2020. What if bitter NFC rivals, the Seattle Seahawks or LA Rams, pick him. That will be painful to watch. Hell. Why not the Miami Dolphins. Anything is possible.
Honestly, who knows what will happen with Jimmy Garoppolo. If for some insane reason he remains a Niner, his role will be that of a third string QB. What are other good suitors for Jimmy Garoppolo?