Last year, the San Francisco 49ers endured the season from heck. Injuries to key players doomed the team to a last-place finish in the NFL’s most competitive division, the NFC West. Despite calls for the team to upgrade from their injury-prone quarterback, general manager John Lynch has publicly affirmed the 49ers’ commitment to Jimmy Garoppolo for the foreseeable future.
Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers suffer a hangover
In 2020, the San Francisco 49ers fell victim to the dreaded “Super Bowl hangover”. They became the 10th team in the past 20 seasons to fail to reach the playoffs the season after losing the Super Bowl.
There was a myriad of reasons for the 49ers’ slide from NFC champion to 5-11. A rash of injuries crippled the team across the board throughout the season. Key players such as Richard Sherman, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and Nick Bosa all missed time. It didn’t help that the worsening pandemic forced them to play their last few “home” games in the state of Arizona.
Near the top of the list of problems was the instability at the quarterback position. In week two, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain which forced him to miss two games. He returned for week seven, but re-aggravated his injury the following week and missed the remainder of the season. The 49ers were left in the hands of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard from that point on.
John Lynch gives Garoppolo a vote of confidence
Before the offseason even technically started, rumor had it that the 49ers were one of the many, many teams looking for an upgrade at the quarterback position. General manager John Lynch seemed to put a stop to those rumors with his statement on The Eye Test podcast Wednesday.
When asked whether he had any doubt Garoppolo would be the 49ers’ starting quarterback for 2021, Lynch answered bluntly, “No, not at all…Just look at the numbers. I mean, he’s 24-9, 25-9 when he’s played.”
Indeed, when Garoppolo was on the field, he put up decent, if unspectacular numbers. In his six starts, he passed for seven touchdowns against five interceptions with a completion percentage of 67.1%. However, Garoppolo has made it through only one full 16-game season as San Francisco’s starter. It would be wise for Lynch to invest in a true backup, if not a full-on upgrade at quarterback.
Other quarterback options for the 49ers
Then again, Lynch’s words aren’t a 100% guarantee that Garoppolo will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback for 2021. For the right price, the team might be willing to let him go.
There is always the possibility, albeit remote, that Lynch and the 49ers’ management are bluffing. This public vote of confidence may just be a ploy to boost Garoppolo’s trade value. The Seattle Seahawks have done exactly the same with Russell Wilson, and the Houston Texans may or may not be doing the same with Deshaun Watson.
In fact, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said something similar regarding Carson Wentz’s future. “When you have players like that, they’re like fingers on your hand. You can’t even imagine that they’re not part of you, that they’re not here. That’s how I feel about Carson,” Roseman said on January 4, as quoted by NBC Sports.
Weeks later, the Eagles shipped Wentz off to the Indianapolis Colts. So Jimmy Garoppolo shouldn’t unpack his suitcase just yet.