This is why the 49ers re-signed veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers felt they would be capable of winning a lot of games this season whether Trey Lance or Garoppolo lined up at quarterback.
The thinking, of course, was that if anything happened to Lance, 22, a first-year starter, the 49ers would not have to rip up their list of goals for the 2022 season.
On Sunday, something happened to Lance.
Lance’s right lower leg was placed in an air cast and he was carted off the field in the first quarter of the 49ers’ 27-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the team’s home opener at Levi’s Stadium.
Immediately after the game, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Lance sustained a broken ankle and will undergo season-ending surgery Monday.
This game has significant implications for the 49ers beyond what it means in the standings.
Here are the top takeaways from the 49ers’ victory, which evened the team’s record at 1-1 after two games:
Worst fear with Lance
The 49ers traded up in the 2021 NFL Draft and invested the No. 3 overall selection in Lance because of his unique skillset, believing he would be able to deliver plays from the pocket, as well as create a lot of big yards with his athleticism and running skills.
Of course, that also means Shanahan would be putting him in harm’s way whenever he called the quarterback’s number on a running play.
In the preseason, it was a big deal when Lance actually executed a slide at the end of a running play.
We all saw in Week 1 what happens when a quarterback slides. It is a cautious move, of course. But in today’s NFL, it is also smart offense. The 49ers were called for two unnecessary roughness penalties on a late-sliding Justin Fields.
Perhaps, Lance could have avoided the injury with a slide. Instead, his right leg got stuck awkwardly underneath 345-pound Seattle defensive tackle Brian Mone and linebacker Cody Barton.
Shanahan will be criticized for his usage of Lance, and that’s completely understandable.
But Lance’s dual-threat abilities were why the 49ers were so high on him in the first place.
It’s all about Jimmy G — again
Garoppolo accepted a dramatic pay cut to remain with the 49ers because he felt as if the situation in Santa Clara gave him the best opportunity to rebuild his stock for the 2023 offseason.
Garoppolo is back as the 49ers’ starter for the foreseeable future after Lance sustained a long-term injury.
Oh, by the way, who the heck needs training camp?
Not James Richard Garoppolo, that’s for sure.
Garoppolo came in cold off the 49ers’ sideline after not taking a snap during training camp this summer.
Everyone believed he would not be returning to the 49ers this season until, well, he signed a new contract to keep him around on a significant pay cut after the conclusion of the preseason.
The 49ers built a 20-0 lead into the second half, and Garoppolo played no small part on 10 of 13 passing for 124 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown to tight end Ross Dwelley.
In the game, Garoppolo completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 154 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Garoppolo clinched the game in the final two minutes with a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak.
All about the defense, too
The 49ers made a big play on special teams in the first half that led to a touchdown. Then, special teams surrendered a touchdown in the third quarter on a blocked field goal.
So while the offense and special teams might come and go, the 49ers are counting on DeMeco Ryans’ defense to consistently keep things together.
The 49ers generated a couple of big takeaways, including cornerback Charvarius Ward’s interception in the end zone on a halfback pass attempt from DeeJay Dallas.
Safety Tashaun Gipson registered an interception of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith after Talanoa Hufanga deflected a pass intended for Tyler Lockett.
The 49ers’ defense put the clamps on the Seattle offense from start to finish. The defense did not allow a point, as the 49ers beat the Seahawks for just the fourth time in the past 21 meetings.
Defensive end Nick Bosa registered 1.5 sacks. He and rookie Drake Jackson teamed up for a sack on a third-and-12 play midway through the fourth quarter that, in effect, closed the door on any hope Seattle had for a comeback.
The 49ers held the Seahawks to just 216 total yards, including just 35 yards rushing (2.5-yard average). Seattle converted just two of seven third-down (29 percent) attempts.