Jimmy Garroppolo is running the offense again in San Francisco after second-year quarterback Trey Lance suffered a horrific ankle injury Sunday, akin to Dak Prescott’s in 2020, during the Niners’ 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He was carted off the field toward the end of the first quarter with the Niners up 3-0.
Lance will miss the rest of the season, which makes this another lost year for him early in his NFL career. He underwent surgery Monday morning, and according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the injury isn’t quite as bad as Prescott’s from a couple of years ago. However, he’ll still miss the remainder of the 2022 campaign.
During the offseason, the hottest team on the west coast, where drama was concerned, were these 49ers. If it wasn’t the controversy with Lance and Garoppolo, it was the talk about Deebo Samuel’s contract extension and his potential trade value along with Jimmy’s. Neither guy was traded, one got the extension he asked for, and the other restructured his deal.
In his first game back on the field, Jimmy G has already hit one of the clauses in his restructured contract. For each game that Garoppolo plays more than 25 percent of San Francisco’s offensive snaps, he earns a $250k bonus. If the team also wins that game, it nets Garoppolo another $100k for a total of $350k.
That’s not a bad deal for Garoppolo, since his position with the team had been in question going back to the end of last season. Although most felt Garoppolo was still the best option the Niners had in their QB room, others (including Kyle Shanahan) felt the team needed to see what Lance had and how much he’d improved from his rookie year to the current. While things have progressed slowly, the Niners now must go another year without knowing precisely what they have in Lance.
With Jimmy G back in charge as the undisputed starting QB in San Francisco, the team’s chances of making another run in the NFC improved slightly. The 49ers’ odds of winning the Super Bowl have gone from +2000 to +1800 at Pointsbet. Garoppolo was able to help navigate the Niners to the NFC Championship game last season, which they were close to winning.
For Lance, there was a feeling-out period himself, and the offense was still figuring out. With Jimmy G, there’s familiarity as they’ve gone to two of the last three NFC title games with Garoppolo at the helm with one Super Bowl appearance. The Niners were en route to winning their sixth Super Bowl, leading 20-10 entering the fourth quarter. Then the 49ers collapsed and gave up 21 unanswered points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, losing Super Bowl LIV, 31-20.
There had been talk of Garoppolo potentially being reinserted into the lineup, but it came much quicker than anyone imagined. The 49ers will likely be included in many analysts’ favorites to compete for the NFC crown. Soon, we’ll be hearing all the Kyle Shanahan “genius” talk start up again, this time for having the foresight to hang on to Jimmy G. Although, there wasn’t much of a trade market for Garoppolo in the offseason, but don’t let facts stand in the way of a good story.
The fact of the matter is Garoppolo is a good QB, not a great one, and we’ve seen him hit his ceiling in San Francisco. They should be good enough to challenge for the NFC West title and make the playoffs again. Regardless, Jimmy G is who he’s always been. As long as no one else of consequence goes down and the offensive line protects Garoppolo, the Niners will be in contention in ‘22.
You hate to see this scenario played out for any player, especially a young one like Lance. He was already playing catch-up because he didn’t play much college football and barely got on the field last season. Now fans and the team have to wait another year to see what this kid can do for an entire season.
Let’s not forget that Garoppolo is a free agent following the ‘22 season. Unless something changes, Lance will be the man again once he returns, with no one peering over his shoulder.