Is Jimmy Garoppolo Running Out of Time to Prove He Deserves the Starting QB Job?

While NFL quarterbacks make a lot of money, nobody likes job uncertainty. Jimmy Garoppolo has dealt with this throughout his NFL career. After several years as Tom Brady’s backup with the Patriots, Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers in the 2017 season. He’s spent several years there solidifying his position amidst both successes and injuries. Has he run out of time in San Francisco?

Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t convinced people he should be the 49ers’ starting QB

Whether Garoppolo will remain the 49ers’ starting quarterback has continued to be a question. NBC Sports reported that the team has been taking a “wait and see” approach to his role. CBS Sports also reported that the 49ers are “very much keeping [their] options open” regarding the quarterback position. The team doesn’t owe Garoppolo any guaranteed money for the remaining two years of his contract following this current season.

However, the uncertainty over the quarterback position doesn’t seem to stretch to his fellow players. NBC Sports reported that George Kittle, 49ers tight end, told “The Rich Eisen Show” that “In the locker room, I don’t think it’s on the radar at all. We come to work, Jimmy G is our QB. He’s our leader. We rally behind him. I think that’s why he plays so well is because he’s got a team that supports him the way we do. And that’s just the way we are every single day in the locker room. I don’t hear anything.”

Garoppolo’s former Patriots teammate wide receiver Julian Edelman recently appeared on “The Greg Hill Show” and shared more positive comments about Garoppolo. 49ers Webzone reported that Edelman told the show, “Jimmy, he can play football. He’s got that little gun-slinger mentality. He’s got that quick release. He’s handsome. You know, he’s got it all.”

Jimmy Garoppolo’s uneven performances and injuries

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by Lawrence Guy
Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers is tackled by Lawrence Guy | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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The uncertainty over Garoppolo’s position stems from his unevenness. After joining the San Francisco 49ers, Garoppolo signed a five-year contract that guaranteed him $48.7 million the following offseason. However, he only played three games during 2018 due to a torn ACL.

In 2019, Garoppolo and the 49ers made it all the way to Super Bowl LIV, where they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite the successful season, mistakes that gave up the 49ers’ lead in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl raised questions about Garoppolo’s future with the team.

Garoppolo’s injury issues have returned this season. Through the first eight weeks of the 2020 season, the 49ers had four wins and four losses, according to Pro Football Reference. Garoppolo missed two of the first four games with a high ankle sprain and then sat out the second half of the fifth game after a poor first half. He played well in the game six win over the Los Angeles Rams, throwing 268 yards plus three touchdowns. In the seventh game, a win against the Patriots, Garoppolo threw for 277 yards.

In the recent eighth game, against the Seattle Seahawks, Garoppolo threw for just 84 yards before suffering a new high ankle sprain. He’ll now miss six weeks and, if he needs surgery, possibly the rest of the season, according to ESPN. Through game eight of this season, Garoppolo has a career record as a starter of 24–8. In addition, he’s never lost two games in a row.

The 49ers’ quarterback options for the future

With Garoppolo now out for at least several games, the 49ers will want to plan for the future, whether with or without Garoppolo. It is possible, CBS Sports pointed out, that Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan, both of whom previously played for Coach Kyle Shanahan, could become free agents during the offseason.

The 49ers may want to pick either of them up as a new quarterback. For now, the 49ers backup quarterback, Nick Mullens, will start for game nine against the Green Bay Packers. While there’s lots of talk about Garoppolo’s position as quarterback, the 49ers sound happy to stick with him at least for now.