It was Black Monday in September for 49ers fans as news broke earlier this morning that Jimmy Garoppolo did, in fact, tear his ACL in Sunday’s contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 2018 offseason was long and arduous for those who were impatiently waiting to see the franchise quarterback show off what strides he’s made as he continued to get more acclimated with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive playbook. Pundits were picking the Niners as a darkhorse playoff candidate before the regular season began.
All that is moot now, though, because the hearts of those within and outside of the organization were collectively ripped out the moment Garoppolo fell to the ground. What’s left is a team still going through a rebuild having to play the final 13 games of the year with a backup quarterback who had his fair share of struggles during the preseason. The only other quarterback in the organization is Nick Mullens, who is more-than-likely to be added to the 53 man roster (along with a veteran, early reports suggest).
While this season is essentially a wash, there are a few things to consider before you effectively tune-out every Sunday until next September. I'm taking it upon myself to talk those of you who are reading this off the proverbial ledge that you currently find yourselves looking over.
This is still very much a rebuild in progress - the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo initially seemed like it had sped of the process but, at least during these first handful of games, it’s obvious that there are still holes to fill and development needed up and down the roster: the team still lacks a consistent rush on the edges, there are some issues at the guard position on the offensive line, and the offense lacks a true bonafide number-one receiver. If there is any “silver lining” to this horrible situation it’s based, in large part, on the idea that there is some draft capital to look forward to come the 2019 NFL Draft; the upcoming draft class is setting itself up to be fairly deep on the defensive line and the 49ers’ biggest need is, arguably, on the edges of the defensive line. A safe bet for a win total heading into this season was 7-8 wins (in the minds of most people, at least) - with Garoppolo out for the rest of 2018 you could figure to knock off 3-4 wins from that projection which, in turn, improves the draft position of San Francisco. So, hey, that’s cool right?
The injury to Garoppolo also hurts when knowing that he could have absolutely benefited from taking as many reps as possible under center while he continues to learn Kyle Shanahan’s offense. This is why you invest in a solid backup quarterback, though, and it is widely known that CJ Beathard has earned the trust and respect of those within the 49ers organization. If anything this provides Beathard with the opportunity to continue to develop as a passer, something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Teams are as desperate as ever for quality quarterback play and, if CJ Beathard is productive enough, there could be a team who ends up wanting to give up a draft pick or two for his services.
Overall, it’ll still be very interesting to see how the team continues to develop as Kyle Shanahan continues to implement his offense. The defense has shown flashes of greatness - most notably from DeForest Buckner, who is just beginning his campaign for Defensive Player of the Year. We’re all in this together, 49er Faithful. Stay strong.