One of the many awards we’ll be looking at when the season comes to a close is the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and the San Francisco 49ers have someone eligible for the award: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season and had been fighting through recovering from that as well as trying to play a full 16-game season. He’s definitely in line for the award, especially when you look at how well he played in 2017 (though his start to 2018 was just “OK”).
After trading for Garoppolo at the 2017 deadline, the 49ers became the first NFL team to start a season 1-10 and finish 5-0. The key to that historic turnaround, Garoppolo was expected to lead San Francisco’s return to glory last season, only to go down with a torn ACL in Week 3. Healthy once again this summer, he jumped out to a league-best 8-0 start with a chain-moving ground attack and a dominant defense doing the heavy lifting. The onus has been on his shoulders the past three weeks, with the running game stymied, record-breaking tight end George Kittle banged-up, and the defense starting to spring leaks. The results have been mixed, with a disappointing outing versus the Seahawks sandwiched by a pair of spectacular performances in narrow victories over the plucky Cardinals. Due to the position in which he plays, Garoppolo will fly up the voting list if the 49ers finish the season with the NFL’s best record.
Before the 2019 season began, I often thought (and hoped) that Solomon Thomas could get this award. He had to deal with the grief over his sister’s suicide in 2018, and that’s a mental battle I don’t wish on anyone. I was hoping Thomas could have gone lights out in 2019 to get the award not just for the recognition but just for further awareness on how important mental health is. Thomas has never been awful, but he still is far away from living up to the No. 3 pick that he was taken as. It’s frustrating, but he hasn’t in any way been a bust, just disappointing. And yes, there is a difference.
But it won’t happen. Garoppolo, on the other hand, is definitely someone I can see getting the award. If he can keep putting together these wicked games where his arm carves up defenses, I think it’s a shoo-in. The fact he’s a quarterback helps him immensely as we all know those who touch the ball the most are usually given some preferential treatment. That’s not to say an offensive lineman couldn’t win the award; it’s just something you don’t see very much. In the history of the award and it’s many different versions (Pro Football Weekly, AP, etc.), I haven’t found an offensive lineman crowned with it. By comparison, even a kicker (AP Comeback Player of the Year) has gotten it.
Do you see Jimmy Garoppolo being the comeback player of the year?