Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by a lot of people if Jimmy Garoppolo can continue his job as the 49ers starting quarterback in 2022.
The answer I say to each of them – and you too – is “no”.
Now, the Niners want the rest of the NFL to believe that Garoppolo can return to the starting job in 2022, as they want to trade him, and such a stance gives Kyle Shanahan and company some leverage in a deal where They don’t have any.
It’s all artificial. The starting quarterback of the Niners in 2022 will be Trey Lance. Garoppolo remains the lame duck for this team.
But the funny thing about this lame-duck season for Garoppolo is this: It’s going great.
If San Francisco wants this season to be one to remember, though, Garoppolo will need to do better in the coming weeks.
In fact, the Niners will need him to do something he hasn’t done since 2019: get the team on his back and lead them to victory, as they have had excellent seasons at games in New Orleans, Arizona and Seattle. did.
If Garoppolo can do this only a couple of times, the Niners will make the playoffs without any tension and the Niners may have some advantage in trade talks this off-season.
If Garoppolo can’t, the final third of this 2021 season will continue this season’s roller coaster.
There is a contradiction in the way the Niners are playing of late.
Yes, there’s a lot riding on the game of a lame-duck quarterback who knows he’s also a lame duck.
And credit to Garoppolo for that – he’s handled this unpleasant situation with utmost professionalism and a little humour. This is no small matter.
But on the field, the 49ers’ best version – the version we’ve seen in the past three weeks – has hid Garoppolo behind a major run game, relegating him to be only third-down-quarterback.
Just take a look at the standings in this or any recent season and you’ll see that the model isn’t exactly one that deals with victories. No, the top two teams in a division almost always claim the two best quarterbacks of that season.
But San Francisco is facing an existential threat from Dibo Samuel’s groin injury. This puts Shanahan’s game plan only to throw Garoppolo into third place (where he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season) in serious danger.
While there have been many elements of the aggressive reincarnation of the Niners over the past few weeks, the main one is the one Samuel used. Shanahan’s ability to move Samuel in and out of the backfield – and Samuel’s unparalleled ability to be an elite running back or receiver – effectively guaranteed that the Niners had the defense at a disadvantage. .
But Samuel is out at least for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks with a groin injury that will certainly prove to be a fixture for the rest of the season.
And while the Niners have tremendous offensive weapons and an offensive line that’s playing cohesive, impressive football, we’ve seen San Francisco completely without the real Samuel. It was inspirational.
I think George Kittel, Brandon Ayuk, and Elijah Mitchell are great, but no one can do what Samuel did for 49’s offense. Those players are a mismatch against their defenders. Samuel was a mismatch for the entire defense.
The Niners are not back to square one, but something has to give.
In this case, it is Shanahan’s wish to hide Jimmy G.
I am not a fan of Garoppolo. I’m sure I’ve made that much clearer over the past two years, but, I’m not betting against him here.
Shanahan’s decision to move him—a quarterback who doesn’t see the field well—almost full-time for Shotgun, abandoning his beloved play-action look, was difficult but inspired. Garoppolo’s best games – the last five in 2017, those three aforementioned wins in 2019 – involved a tremendous amount of shotgun snaps. That is his football home.
Also, while the Niners’ other offensive weapons do not allow Shanahan to play chess while the other team plays checkers, he is quite an excellent player.
Ultimately, though, I’m not counting Garoppolo because his third-down mentality looms large in what he does. He is a procrastinator and an excellent one at that.
As he was walking out the door, it would be his final Garoppolo move to play his best football.
The people of 49 will not mind this at all. A playoff berth and a good draft pick – maybe even a Day 2 pick – would make an excellent parting gift from No.