Only two years removed from nearly winning a Super Bowl with him under center, the franchise seemed to be looking in every other direction in order to upgrade at the quarterback position.
Actions speak louder than words, and the 49ers’ moves resounded loudly about what they felt Garoppolo’s future with the team looked like.
They parted with the No. 12 overall selection and a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts, in order to secure the third overall selection from the Miami Dolphins.
San Francisco was guaranteed to be able to select one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 class, and went with Trey Lance.
It seemed like a question of when, and not if, Lance would supplant Garoppolo this season.
Remarkably, head coach Kyle Shanahan never made the switch, and finds himself game-planning for Wild Card Weekend with Garoppolo under center.
With the season on the line, the 49ers bounced back from a 17-point deficit to punch their ticket to the Playoffs.
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— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 13, 2022
When a team invests such a high draft pick at the quarterback position, the expectation is that the star prospect will see the field almost immediately.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets didn’t have anyone on the team as established as Garoppolo on their rosters, they each wasted no time in starting Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson from Week 1.
The 49ers held what appeared to be a legitimate quarterback competition over the summer, and Shanahan got extremely creative with both players.
In their final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Lance and Garoppolo rotated snaps on the same drive, planting the seed that Shanahan would keep defenses guessing in the regular season.
The Regular Season
However, once the games started to count in September, Shanahan opted to go with the veteran under center, and let his talented rookie develop from the sidelines.
While Garoppolo was not lighting up the league with aerial shows on a weekly basis, he continued to deliver the steady play he has been known for throughout his career in San Francisco.
With the type of team the 49ers have around their quarterback, that is all they really needed.
Garoppolo’s numbers don’t leap off the page; he’s thrown for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this year.
By comparison, Lance had a two-week stretch in Weeks 4-5 where he completed an average of 50.5 percent of this throws.
The rookie certainly has more physical arm talent and athleticism, but missing the mark that much for a team in win-now mode was something Shanahan couldn’t live with.
Garoppolo’s Career Record
While his contributions often are vastly overlooked, Garoppolo’s body of work as a starter is getting pretty hard to ignore.
He has a 31-14 career record as a starter with the 49ers, and only finished under .500 (1-2) in 2018 when he tore his ACL in Week 3.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 12, 2022
As long as Garoppolo is physically available to play, he does what it takes to win games, which is more than a lot of quarterbacks around the NFL can say.