When the San Francisco 49ers first pulled the trigger on trading up for quarterback Trey Lance during the 2021 NFL Draft, questions regarding Jimmy Garoppolo began popping up left and right. He had been the 49ers’ starting QB since 2017 and is on franchise QB-type money. Now, it looked like he was on the way out of the building.
Instead, Garoppolo hung around for the entire year, leading the 49ers to a spot in the NFC playoff picture. The 49ers finished the year 10-7 and have a date with the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round this upcoming weekend.
Jimmy Garoppolo reveals Trey Lance was, in fact, a distraction
While Garoppolo finished the year in good standing with the 49ers organization and is set to start under center in another playoff game, he recently revealed that he hasn’t been oblivious to the Lance distraction over the past season.
Despite being the team’s starting QB every game that he was healthy, he realizes that Lance is in the building to steal his job one day. When asked about Lance’s presence this past year, Jimmy G revealed that the rookie QB was distracting.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Garoppolo said when asked about Lance potentially stealing his job next year. “It has been in mine, really, the whole season. I knew what type of season it was, knew everything that was going on behind the scenes and whatnot. It was a little different.”
Is rostering 2 ‘franchise QBs’ the right move?
Drafting a replacement QB while still rostering the man set to be replaced is quickly becoming a popular strategy in the NFL these days. The Philadelphia Eagles did it with Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz. The Green Bay Packers are doing it with Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has responded well to the adversity — Wentz not so much.
For the 49ers, they fell somewhere in between. Garoppolo ultimately battled through the controversy and led the 49ers to a 10-win season. However, that doesn’t mean Lance’s presence wasn’t a distraction. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan experimented with using Lance as a goal-line-only QB, and the national media frequently called for Jimmy G to be benched.
Even with a playoff game on the horizon, Garoppolo is still battling the thought that he won’t be in San Francisco next year. That’s a harsh reality to deal with mentally.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo change the 49ers’ mind with a deep playoff run?
The 49ers’ current plan is to trade Jimmy G and start Lance next season. That’s the consensus. However, one must wonder if Garoppolo could change their mind with a deep playoff run.
It seems unlikely, but let’s say Garoppolo guides the 49ers to an NFC Championship appearance or even another Super Bowl appearance. Would the Niners really dump him in the offseason in exchange for a QB who’s made two career starts? Only time will tell.
Regardless, Garoppolo getting honest about Lance and the distraction he’s been is eye-opening.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.