When the 49ers re-worked Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract to bring him back another year, all we heard was, “if you can afford to keep Jimmy, then you keep him,” or something along the lines of it’s the best thing for the team to be deep at quarterback.
Inevitably, there was a positive spin on the signing, despite both Garoppolo and Trey Lance saying all of the right things.
Well, a week later, we’re starting to see the effects of Jimmy’s return in the media. Peter King predicted Lance would lose his job by Week 7 in his Football Morning in America column Monday morning:
QB changes: Kenny Pickett for Mitchell Trubisky in mid-October, Drew Lock yo-yos with Geno Smith starting in late October, Jimmy Garoppolo for Trey Lance prior to facing Kansas City in week seven, Desmond Ridder for Marcus Mariota in November, Tyrod Taylor for Daniel Jones in December. A rusty Deshaun Watson goes 3-3 in his six late-season post-suspension games in Cleveland. These things happen when you haven’t played a game of football in 100 weeks.
King later doubled down in his “I think” portion, going with the cliche, ‘this is a veteran team’ link of thinking:
8. I think I do not want to be a negative Nate here. I truly do not dislike the San Francisco agreement to bring back Jimmy Garoppolo. But in the midst of all the kumbaya coming out of the oh-it’s-great-we-re-signed-Jimmy lovefest, I wonder one thing: This is a veteran team that went to battle with Jimmy Garoppolo late last season and saw him beat the Rams in Week 18, then watch him be the QB in winning playoff games at Dallas and Green Bay. How will George Kittle and Fred Warner and Arik Armstead and Deebo Samuel, all good team guys, react privately if Trey Lance struggles the first month of the season? Will the Niners’ leadership council go to Kyle Shanahan and say, “Come on. We gotta win these games?”
Garoppolo was part of the reason the Niners had to make a memorable comeback in Week 18. San Francisco scored three points on four possessions in the second half, including an interception. The second half went much better, but the Rams also scored a touchdown off another interception.
Why do we ignore that? Context is critical because it helps paint the picture of what this team went through to get to the playoffs and make it to the doorstep of another Super Bowl. Referencing wins is lazy, and it appears we’re going to go through another season of that if Lance struggles.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer attempted to close the book on a scenario that’s not ideal:
There’s too much on the line with the roster to worry about hurt feelings. And while I’d heard Lance was a little annoyed in the immediate aftermath, he’s a smart, mature kid who I believe can handle it. Truth is, if he couldn’t, you might have bigger questions about where the Niners are at the position.
Lance and Garoppolo can get along well and be great friends in the locker room and on the field. But there’s no doubt that you, the quarterback, would be mildly annoyed at the potential of a distraction.
Lance said last week that everything at practice was normal with Garoppolo, which is likely true. But if we’re talking about the second-year quarterback losing his job before he’s even thrown a pass, imagine once he turns the ball over or loses to a team everyone thought the 49ers should beat.