Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t going gently into the good night. As the San Francisco 49ers put an early end to their offseason program on Wednesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan was complimentary of the veteran quarterback and what he’s been able to show on the field throughout the spring. In fact, it’s the best Shanahan has seen Garoppolo at this time of the year since he arrived in the Bay Area.
“I think Jimmy had his best spring since we’ve had him,” Shanahan told reporters Wednesday. “We had the spring the first year with him, the second year he had the ACL, so we didn’t get that. And then last year it was COVID. So this is really his second one not being on an ACL. I thought Jimmy came in in great shape, really locked in, a good place physically and mentally. And I thought he had as good of OTAs as he’s had.”
Of course, Garoppolo impressing the 49ers brass comes after the club traded up to the No. 3 overall pick at the 2021 NFL Draft to select North Dakota State’s Trey Lance to become their new quarterback of the future. In the immediate aftermath of the trade, Garoppolo previously admitted that he considered asking for a trade, but instead elected to stay with the 49ers with the mindset to “go out there and ball.” Well, it seems like he’s off to a solid start in that regard.
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Talent and the ability to wow folks with his play, however, were never the issue for Garoppolo. After all, he was able to lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV and was essentially a quarter away from the title before the Kansas City Chiefs came roaring back in that contest. What has limited Garoppolo throughout his career and what pushed San Francisco to make that blockbuster trade to go after Lance was his durability (or lack thereof).
Last year, Garoppolo was limited to just six games due to high-ankle sprains and the 29-year-old only has one season where he’s been able to suit up for every regular-season contest. That’s not exactly a consistent winning formula for the 49ers so it doesn’t seem like Garoppolo’s performance this spring will have them regretting the Lance selection. Again, the on-field ability wasn’t the issue. The “on-field” part is.
With all that said, if Garoppolo continues to impress as the summer and training camp rolls on, he could firmly solidify himself as the 49ers starter to begin the 2021 season as Lance continues to develop. If he stays healthy, San Francisco could be right back in contention while they get the next phase of their quarterback position ready.