How Jimmy Garoppolo reflects the 49ers season

0

GREEN BAY, Wis. – One last time?

For the third week in a row, the 49ers are facing the end of their season.

For the third week in a row, their embattled starting quarterback faces the end of his career in a 49ers uniform.

Jimmy Garoppolo has become emblematic of his team. Abandoned months ago. Struggled to regain relevance. Defective. Difficult. Gravelly.

It will take everything the 49ers have on Saturday night to pull off the upset on the road against the top-seeded and NFC favorite Packers.

Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a souvenir to fans after the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 31-13 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021.

Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

But the 49ers and Garoppolo taught us not to bet against them.

“I think your experiences make you who you are,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Being 3-5, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But things that you would call a bad thing, they can be such a good thing if you go through them.

“It makes your whole team so much stronger. And we’ve been through a lot this year and I think that struggle has made us who we are. That’s why I feel like there’s no situation in which we’re going to panic. We believe we have a chance of winning any game we play until there is zero on the clock.

Shanahan was talking about the 49ers as a collective unit. But he could also talk about his quarterback. The one he wanted to replace with Saturday night’s opponent, Aaron Rodgers. The one whose replacement, Trey Lance, is already sitting on the 49ers bench.

One who has become a social media meme for his ability to play through injury and pain.

This week, Garoppolo isn’t just playing with a torn thumb on his throwing hand – which will likely require surgery – he’s playing with a sprained shoulder suffered when he was hit in the Dallas game and tried to protect his thumb while descending. .

Yet, it is expected to begin. Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said it would be like “pulling teeth” to get him out of the lineup.

Garoppolo’s new injury led to jokes on Twitter quoting “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”: “It’s just a scratch.” “It’s just a flesh wound.” And false announcements such as “The 49ers have announced that Jimmy Garoppolo’s right arm has been amputated, but he is expected to be the starter.”

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers hands over Trey Sermon during the 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers hands over Trey Sermon during the 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

When asked which bothered him more, the shoulder or the thumb, Garoppolo replied, “Yes.” With a laugh.

The shoulder sprain, which was announced on Monday, explained why he looked so much worse in the second half. But he didn’t get much sympathy from his head coach.

“He had two misses and personally I don’t think it had to do with his shoulder,” Shanahan said.

Garoppolo, when asked directly, conceded that, of course it probably impacted some shots. But he found no excuses.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates his second rushing touchdown of the game in the 49ers 33-22 win over the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates his second rushing touchdown of the game in the 49ers 33-22 win over the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

“It certainly had some impact, but if I’m out there and I’m placed in that place, I still have to play the games,” he said. “So no apologies or anything like that.” … We’re all dealing with stuff now.

Yes, but few quarterbacks struggle with two throwing arm injuries.

On Friday, Shanahan said Garoppolo looked “great” in practice and finally admitted that, yes, the starting quarterback’s injuries may be more of a problem than other injuries.

Meanwhile, all Garoppolo does is win.

“Jimmy could have tapped and said, ‘I can’t go anymore, you’re on your own,'” George Kittle said. ” But he did not do it. He took a week off and came back and has been playing at a very high level ever since.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo scrambles during San Francisco's 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, October 31, 2021.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo scrambles during San Francisco’s 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle

“That’s what you like about him. He doesn’t give up. Just keep grinding. He continually leads this team to victories and gives us the opportunity to play more football.

He does. Garoppolo’s record as a 49ers starter now stands at 31-14, a .689 winning percentage. That’s really good, although it ranks behind the 49ers career marks of Steve Young (.734) and Joe Montana (.719). So far, his winning percentage for the 49ers in the playoffs is .750, winning three of four starts, behind Montana (.737, with wins in 14 of 19 starts) but ahead of Young (.571, 8-6). Obviously, this playoff recap comes from a much different and much smaller sample. But there’s no doubt that Garoppolo fulfills the main purpose of every NFL player: he wins far more than he loses.

Starting that season, some fans frustrated with Shanahan’s insistence on staying with Garoppolo assumed that staying with Garoppolo would derail the 49ers season.

Instead, here are the 49ers, in week two of the playoffs, succeeding not in spite of Garoppolo but because of him. And assume his personality.

They are grainy, imperfect, hard. And fight to live another week. Just like their quarterback.

Ann Killion is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @annkillion

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.