This was the whole idea behind bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo this season.
Garoppolo was the insurance policy, and the 49ers will get indemnified much sooner than they had hoped or anticipated.
Quarterback Trey Lance on Monday underwent surgery to repair an ankle fracture and ligament damage.
His season is over. The 49ers’ season, however, has just begun.
And so has this edition of 49ers Overreactions ...
First off, let’s not minimize this: Lance’s injury is a devastating development for him and for the 49ers.
But all is not lost for him or the organization.
Garoppolo, 30, has made 53 career starts and begins his ninth NFL season. All but two of those starts have come with the 49ers, and his teams have a record of 37-16 in those games.
Lance, 22, has made just 21 starts (including 17 at North Dakota State) since playing his final game at Marshall High School (Minn.) in 2017.
The 49ers are set up to win now, and everyone was expecting a season of ups-and-downs while Lance was on the field. After all, every young quarterback battles inconsistency.
There is also no denying Lance’s tremendous upside. The 49ers felt Lance could merely do his part and continue to learn on the job while taking advantage of a strong supporting cast to pile up victories.
Then, toward the end of the season, Lance would become more consistent, in addition to more dynamic, and the 49ers would be in a better position heading into the postseason.
Lance will not experience the 1,000 offensive snaps this season and the experiences, both good and bad, that would have come along with it and made him better in the future.
Still, in the big picture, this setback is temporary.
He posted from his hospital bed after surgery on Monday, “This chapter is going to make the story even greater!”
Much appreciation -- and respect -- for getting into the whole spirit of 49ers Overreactions.
Here at 49ers Overreactions Central, we believe DeMeco Ryans has a strong chance to become an NFL head coach during the next hiring cycle.
We also believe Shanahan is not going anywhere any time soon.
When Shanahan and John Lynch came to the 49ers, this franchise is was in such sorry shape that they were given six-year contracts. The turnaround has been impressive. Over the past three seasons, the 49ers have gone to two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl.
That does not sound much like “utter failure.”
There’s a better chance Shanahan will end up as the longest-tenured 49ers coach in franchise history than him being kicked out the door any time soon.
We can debate his usage of quarterback runs with Lance. That’s fair.
But Lance’s ability to run -- much like some of the other quarterbacks around the NFL -- is one of the factors that drew the 49ers to him in the first place.
The 49ers head into the final 15 games of the regular season as, once again, a contender in the NFC.
But you can say that about any team that sustains a loss to a starter: The depth at the position has been weakened. No doubt about it.
If the 49ers had been able to trade Garoppolo at the start of the regular season, they would have opened the season with Lance as the starter and Brock Purdy as the backup. So, now, the difference is Garoppolo, not Lance, is the starter.
Purdy was a four-year starter at Iowa State and the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He will suit up as the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback. The 49ers feel good about their decision to keep him on the 53-man roster instead of trying to sneak him through to the practice squad.
“He’s got the ability to do it and we saw him through college, and we’ve seen it here,” Shanahan said. “And you hope that he can sit and just watch these other guys and be ready, but the guy’s a confident person and we’ve really liked what we’ve seen here.”
First off, define “fans.”
If you’re talking about some accounts on social media, you can probably find instances where that has already happened. But if you’re talking about actual human beings, that’s not happening.
When Garoppolo jogs out of the tunnel at home and road games, he always elicits the biggest cheers from 49ers fans.
Since his arrival in the middle of the 2017 season, Garoppolo has been the most popular player on the team. Don’t let anyone tell you something different.
If the 49ers go to the playoffs and make a deep run, Shanahan and Lynch will have a difficult decision ahead of them.
Right now, the odds are that Lance will be back as the starter with Purdy as the backup, and Garoppolo will be elsewhere.
However, the better the 49ers play this season under Garoppolo, the more the debate will rage -- and that’s a good thing.
But there is NO WAY the upcoming offseason will be more crazy than it was this past year.
Unless another surprise surgery takes place, Garoppolo’s situation will be settled by the middle of March -- at the beginning of free agency.