The San Francisco 49ers have had a difficult 2020 season. After making the Super Bowl last year, they are out of playoff contention heading into the final week of the season. Injuries to numerous players played a part in their underwhelming year, with quarterback Jimmy Garropolo playing six games in 2020.
The seventh-year signal caller’s injury history has started some speculation regarding his future with San Francisco. Could the team move on from him and look for another quarterback? Head coach Kyle Shanahan offered his perspective on the matter, giving Jimmy G and the 49ers a positive outlook on his future.
Jimmy Garropolo has a concerning injury history
Injuries happen in football. It is a violent game with grown men throwing their bodies at each other at high speeds. However, a player who continually misses games with injuries can turn into a liability, especially at quarterback. Since Jimmy Garropolo arrived in San Francisco, he has had numerous injuries.
After signing that five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers in 2018, Garropolo only played the team’s first three games the following season. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 3, ending his season. He returned in 2018 and started every game. Alongside the Niners’ strong defense, Garropolo took the team to the Super Bowl.
The injury bug bit Jimmy G again in 2020. A sprained ankle suffered in Week 2 caused him to miss the team’s next two games. After returning to the field in Week 5, he played four more games before suffering another sprained ankle. He hasn’t played since and isn’t going to play in the Niners’ season finale against the Seahawks.
In his three full seasons as a starter, Garropolo has played in 25 of 48 possible games. That’s barely over 50%. The best ability is availability in the NFL, and Jimmy G has not been available for the Niners. The injuries to his lower body bring up legit durability issues. Kyle Shanahan still believes that Jimmy Garropolo is the 49ers’ quarterback of the future despite the injury concerns.
Kyle Shanahan ‘believes’ Jimmy Garropolo will be the 49ers quarterback in 2021
The murmurs about the future of Garropolo will get louder when the offseason officially begins. Kyle Shanahan decided to quiet those murmurs (sort of), saying he believes Jimmy G will be back under center for San Francisco.
“I do believe Jimmy’s going to be our quarterback next year,” said Shanahan per AP News. “Look at Jimmy’s record when he’s been here. Jimmy, you can win with. He’s proven that. He’s proven he’s a starting quarterback in this league.” Shanahan said.
Shanahan has a point. When Jimmy Garropolo is in the starting lineup, the 49ers win a lot more games than when he’s off the field. San Francisco is 22-8 when Garopolo is the starter but has a 7-26 record when he’s not. Even though Shanahan believes Garropolo will be back in 2021, he added that nothing is for sure in the NFL, and the Niners will make the necessary moves to give them the best roster next season.
Jimmy Garopolo made considerable strides in 2019. He threw for almost 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and completed 69% of his passes. Shanahan expected him to make the next leap in 2020, but injuries derailed his season. “I think he would have taken steps forward, and it would’ve been great for him to play this year. The injuries he had kind of took the year from him. It was unfortunate for Jimmy and for our team.” said Shanahan per the AP report.
Can the 49ers get another quarterback and move on from Jimmy Garrapolo?
Saying something is one thing; acting on those words is another. It looks like Garropolo will return to San Francisco in 2021, but what if he doesn’t? Could the 49ers let Jimmy G go and look for another quarterback? What would their options be if they move on from Garropolo?
The issue surrounding Garropolo outside of his injuries is that he doesn’t consistently play like an elite NFL quarterback. He has his moments, but he has failed to elevate the team around him and make the big play. If the Niners’ desire more of an elite quarterback, they can get one. They would need to get rid of Jimmy G first.
Garropolo’s contract will carry a $27 million cap hit going into next year. If San Francisco releases him, they would save $24.1 million and only incur $2.8 million in dead money. That would allow them to trade or sign a veteran this offseason. They could also draft a quarterback because they will have an early first-round pick. If the Niners decide to take this route, they better be confident the QB is an upgrade from Garropolo.
Kyle Shanahan has seen success with Jimmy Garropolo, which is why he is confident he’ll be back in 2021. Injuries and health will be the topic of discussion, as Jimmy G must stay healthy if he wants to have a successful career with the 49ers.