The San Francisco 49ers had their championship aspirations come to a screeching halt last season when quarterback Brock Purdy suffered a torn UCL in the first quarter of the NFC Championship Game, leading to a 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
After seeing some significant quarterback turnover last season, going from Trey Lance to Jimmy Garoppolo to Brock Purdy due to injuries, it was a deafening blow to a team vying to reach a Super Bowl since their 2019 defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, a potential twist that could've changed the outlook of last season was recently revealed.
Making an appearance on former 49ers teammate Richard Sherman’s podcast, safety Jimmie Ward delved into the issues during his final year in San Francisco, pointing to a dispute with head coach Kyle Shanahan, amongst other concerns.
Ward detailed how he was forced to play out of position, and was even asked to make a move to corner, which eventually prompted him to leave San Francisco, despite interest in retaining the defensive back for another season.
The now-Houston Texans safety related his situation to that of former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered a broken foot in San Francisco’s Week 13 win over the Miami Dolphins last season, and never returned to the team.
Garoppolo’s health was a controversial topic last year, as the 49ers held out hope of a potential return, electing not to place the quarterback on Injured Reserve, but that never occurred.
But, could Garoppolo have suited up for the NFC Championship Game? Ward believes so but shared his thoughts that the quarterback made more of a business decision to protect his health.
“And that’s probably some of the stuff that went down with Jimmy, too,” Ward said in reference to the issues he had with the team. “I don’t know, man, because I feel like Jimmy could have dressed out. I feel like Jimmy could dressed out that last game [against the Eagles]. But you know how this stuff [is]. I seen your boy shooting a bird when he broke his foot.”
While it would've been a tough return, given the timeline for Garoppolo, as well as the surgery he required during the offseason, the idea of him playing could've created a much different scenario to end last season.
Instead, the 49ers are looking to avenge their loss this season, starting off strong with a 4-0 start, riding with quarterback Brock Purdy at the helm.