I already know half of you are going to be sending me hate mail revisiting this, but it came up in the press conference today and made me realize: Jimmy Garoppolo is returning to the field that put him on IR.
The San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 of the preseason. The plan is to have Jimmy Garoppolo play a half. He needs it, after his subpar showing (some of which may not have been his fault) Garoppolo needs to get that rust off from being out of action for 11 months.
Except for the Chiefs—and Arrowhead Stadium by extension—is where all of this began.
Forget Week 3 of the 2019 preseason. Let’s go to Week 3 of the 2018 season. Jimmy Garoppolo was coming off a strange win against the Detroit Lions. One of those wins that felt like a loss. The 49ers were going up against the Chiefs, and getting a thorough thrashing through the first half. The second half rolled around, and Garoppolo remembered he was Jimmy Garoppolo and started dicing up the Chiefs.
It was 38-24, Chiefs with just under six minutes to go. The 49ers had a shot at turning this game around. They held the Chiefs to a field goal in the second half and were getting points. On 3rd and goal from the Kansas City 20-yard line, Garoppolo scrambled and ran up the sidelines. And he kept running. And just as Chiefs cornerback homed in on Garoppolo, Garoppolo didn’t step out of bounds, and he tried to get more yards.
Then this happened.
Could Garoppolo have avoided the injury had he just went out of bounds? Who knows. What is known is everyone knew right then and there his season was over. In his press conference following the game, Kyle Shanahan said the staff speculated an ACL tear. The 49ers confirmed the injury the following day.
To say that the season was given up on at that point is an understatement. Just look at the comments of the above article.
In his Thursday press conference, Garoppolo was asked a couple of questions about returning to Arrowhead stadium:
Going back to Kansas City, what can that do for you mentally to kind of get going in the comeback?
“It’ll be a good stepping stone. Definitely, it’ll be a little weird getting back there, but yeah, just trying to treat it like a normal game.”
Have you flashed back to that moment a lot over these last 11 months?
“Yeah, initially after it happened. I mean, you try to replay it all in your head and what you’d do differently and everything like that and really everything that goes into it. It’s come up a couple times, but I think I’m past that at this point.”
It’s always weird to return to the site of the injury. Personally, I can point out the bike path in Eagle, Idaho, where I broke my arm the summer of sixth grade. Garoppolo is past the actual incident, but it does take time to move on from the injury itself mentally.
Hopefully, we can finally see Garoppolo for a full 16-game season, and we can never speak of this again.