Despite continued calls to ship out Jimmy Garoppolo in favor of Trey Lance, the truth is, Jimmy G’s time with the 49ers has been more successful than not.
There has been a discourse surrounding the San Francisco 49ers since their dominating win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. There are some in sports media who seem to think that the 7-4 San Fransisco team could be a Super Bowl contenderand if they continue to play like they did against the Cardinals, it would seem very likely indeed.
Against the Cardinals, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 228 passing yards and four touchdowns. This was his first game with four touchdowns since 2019. In the previous week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Garoppolo threw 240 passing yards for zero touchdowns, yet the 49ers still claimed the victory.
While Garoppolo has been criticized for lacking throws in the 49ers offense, he has always done what he has needed to do to make his team win.
Let’s take a look at Jimmy Garoppolo’s journey with the San Francisco 49ers
2017 – The Trade
Jimmy Garoppolo was not always a 49er. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Garoppolo entered the NFL as a backup to then-Patriots starting quarterback, Tom Brady.
Garoppolo saw his first action as the Patriots starter in 2016, when Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season. Garoppolo started Weeks 1 and 2, and picked up victories against the Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. Garoppolo suffered a shoulder injury and missed Weeks 3 and 4. Brady returned in Week 5 and took over the starting job.
During the offseason before the 2017 season began, rumors were swirling that Garoppolo could potentially be traded. The Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns were cited as the most likely suitors at the time, but no trade was made.
On October 31st, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a second-round pick in the upcoming 2018 draft. Garoppolo made his San Francisco debut in Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks, entering the game in the final minutes after an injury to starting quarterback CJ Beathard. On his first play as a 49er, Garoppolo rushed for six yards. On the final play of the game, he threw a 10-yard touchdown to Louis Murphy. Despite San Francisco losing the game, fans saw a glimpse of what Garoppolo could bring to the table.
Garoppolo would start the five remaining games for the 49ers. In those five games, he threw for 1,542 yards and six touchdowns.
2018 – Big Time Contract, Big Time Injury
In February, 2018, the 49ers and Garoppolo agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth a maximum of $137.5 million, which was the largest NFL contract in history at the time. It also had nearly $90 million in guarantees in the first three years, which was also the largest total in guarantees in NFL history until that point.
Garoppolo was named the official starter for the 2018 season. The season opener was rough as the 49ers suffered a humiliating loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Garoppolo threw just one touchdown to three interceptions in that game. San Francisco would pick up a win in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions, and Garoppolo redeemed himself by throwing two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
In the Week 3 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Garoppolo threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a leg injury. It was later revealed that he had suffered an ACL injury and therefore his 2018 season was over. With Garoppolo sidelined, the 49ers finished the season with an abysmal 4-12 record.
2019 – The Comeback Season
Garoppolo returned to the NFL for the 2019 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. San Francisco went on an eight-week win streak before suffering their first loss in Week 10 to the Seattle Seahawks. During their win streak, Garoppolo threw for 1,806 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Besides the loss to Seattle, San Fransisco would lose just two other regular season games, one in Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens, and the other in Week 15 to the Atlanta Falcons.
Garoppolo’s best regular season game in 2019 came in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
San Francisco ended the regular season with a 13-3 record and went onto the playoffs.
The 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the Divisional Round before moving onto the NFC Conference Championship, where they defeated the Green Bay Packers 37-20. The 49ers won the NFC Championship and advanced to Super Bowl LIV, where they faced the AFC Champions in the Kansas City Chiefs.
In Super Bowl LIV, Garoppolo threw for 219 yards for one touchdown. He also had two interceptions. San Francisco would lose to the Chiefs 20-31. Garoppolo was heavily criticized following the game for overthrowing a game-changing pass to Emmanuel Sanders that could have put San Francisco in position to win.
Garoppolo’s comeback season did not go unnoticed by NFL fans and other players, as he was the runner-up for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He finished one vote behind Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He was also ranked 43rd by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019 list.
Despite the Super Bowl loss, the 49ers enjoyed a tremendous 2019 season, and that was largely due to Garoppolo himself.
2020 – Another Season Cut Short
Garoppolo remained the starter for the 2020 NFL season. San Fransisco opened the season with a loss to the Cardinals, where Garoppolo threw 259 yards and two touchdowns. In the Week 2 game against the New York Jets, Garoppolo had thrown for 131 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game in the first half with an ankle injury.
Garoppolo would miss Weeks 3 and 4 before returning as the starter in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins. Garoppolo had 77 yards and two interceptions before being benched for backup CJ Beathard. The 49ers lost 17-43.
In the following game against the Los Angeles Rams, Garoppolo was named the starter and threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-16 win.
Week 7 saw Garoppolo return to Gillette Stadium, the home of his former Patriots, for the first time since being traded. San Fransisco dominated New England in a 33-6 victory.
In Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, Garoppolo injured his ankle yet again and exited the game. It was later announced that Garoppolo would be out indefinitely with the injury. Garoppolo was placed on injured reserve in November, and although he was designated to return in December, the 49ers did not activate him before the end of the season.
The 49ers ended the season with a 6-10 record.
2021 – The First-Round Backup Quarterback
Coming off of the 2020 season, there was a lot of talk about who San Fransisco would select in the 2021 NFL draft. The 49ers were in possession of the No. 3 overall pick in the first round. Rumors swirled that San Fransisco would draft a new quarterback, with many speculating it would be Trey Lance from North Dakota State University.
The rumors turned out to be true, as the 49ers did in fact draft Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick. This decision then started the conversation of who would be the starter: Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance?
Garoppolo was coming off of his second leg injury in three years, while on the other hand, Trey Lance was just a rookie.
The 49ers eventually chose the veteran over the rookie, and Garoppolo was announced as the starter. In Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, Garoppolo led the team to a 41-33 victory. Garoppolo played the first four games of the season before being inactive in Week 5 due to a calf injury. Garoppolo returned in Week 7 and went on a 6-4 run before being inactive again in Week 17. Garoppolo and the 49ers won the last game of the season against their division rival, the Los Angeles Rams, and ended the regular season at 9- 6.
In the playoffs, the 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round before moving onto the Divisional Round, where they defeated the Packers. The 49ers found themselves in another NFC Championship game, but they ended up losing to the eventual Super Bowl winners in the Rams.
2022 – The Season That Wasn’t Supposed to be His
Ahead of the 2022 season, the 49ers named second year quarterback Trey Lance as the starter over Garoppolo during training camp. However, the 49ers did sign Garoppolo to a one-year contract to keep him with the team, and it is fortuitous that they did.
Lance started the season against the Chicago Bears and threw for 164 yards and zero touchdowns as well as one interception. In Week 2 against the Seahawks, Lance suffered an ankle injury and exited the game, resulting in Garoppolo entering the game. Garoppolo threw for 154 yards, one passing touchdown, and one rushing touchdown in the 27-7 win. It was later revealed that Lance’s injury was season-ending, and once again, Garoppolo was named the starter.
Since Garoppolo made his first start of the season in Week 3, the 49ers have won six of their last nine games, with the most recent being against the New Orleans Saints.
Garoppolo currently has 2,381 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns, where he is tied for 13th in the NFL. He also has just four interceptions, which has him tied for 6th overall in the NFL.
Both Garoppolo and the 49ers are receiving tons of praise for their victory against the Cardinals and are now considered Super Bowl contenders. Would the 49ers’ 2022 season have gone this way if Lance had not gotten injured? We will never know.
What we do know is that the 49ers are better when Jimmy Garoppolo is on the field. As it currently stands, Garoppolo has 36 regular season wins as the 49ers starting quarterback compared to 17 losses.
49ers fans rallied for Trey Lance, but they failed to realize that the 49ers had a gem in Jimmy Garoppolo. While Garoppolo is a player who has indeed suffered many injuries over the years, he is someone who can still play at a high level and win competitive games.
In the seasons were Garoppolo has started most or all of the games, he won more than he lost. In 2019, Garoppolo started every game, and the 49ers season record was 13-3. When he played all but two games in 2021, they ended the season at 10-7. Compare that to the seasons when he was injured — they ended the season 4-12 in 2018, and in 2020, they went 6-10.
Many credit Garoppolo’s success to the players around him or to 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan. These points are valid, as Garoppolo does have some of the NFL’s best players on an offense including George Kittle, who has made a case for being the best tight end in the NFL over the years. There’s also receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, who are each exceptional in their own right. San Francisco also recently added star running back Christian McCaffrey, who was responsible for three touchdowns in Week 8 alone. As much as these players make Garoppolo look good, it can be argued that he also makes them look good.
Nobody knows how this season will end for the 49ers, or what will happen next year when Trey Lance is healthy again. However, when Jimmy Garoppolo is on the field, the 49ers have a better chance of winning than when he isn’t. This has been proven season by season.
Garoppolo is beloved by his fellow teammates and is now finally starting to gain the love and appreciation of many 49ers fans and sports media personalities, which is something he should have had a long time ago.