In likely his last season with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo played through several injuries while helping San Francisco reach the NFC Championship Game.
Garoppolo dealt with a thumb injury late in the 2021 season and into the postseason. Then, against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Game, he hurt his throwing shoulder, which required offseason surgery.
The ability of Garoppolo to play while dealing with immense pain last season drew praise from 49ers general manager John Lynch in March.
But some of Garoppolo's old teammates from his days with the New England Patriots saw a different side of the quarterback, one that refused to play while dealing with an injury, and those feelings resurfaced this week during the latest episode of "I Am Athlete" podcast, featuring former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall and several other former NFL players.
Former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was asked to read and then react to comments Martellus Bennett made in 2021 in which the ex-New England tight end called Garoppolo a "b---h" for not wanting to play in a 2016 game due to a left shoulder injury.
"Week 3, like the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills or the [New York] Jets, and he hurts his non-throwing shoulder, his left shoulder," Edelman said. "And Jacoby [Brissett] came in, led us to a win and the next week."
Edelman was asked if having a hurt non-throwing shoulder was a big deal.
"I don't know," Edelman said. "We're all football players here. But Jacoby, he tore the ligaments in his thumb in the win against the Week 3 team. And so we go into Week 4 and I guess Jimmy was practicing and then decided not to play and Jacoby played with no ligaments in his thumb, which you can't do that as a quarterback, you can't grip. And if it's your left [shoulder]... And a lot of guys got mad about it. Lot of guys got mad. I'm not going to lie, I got mad about it. I sacrificed my body all day long. I was taking shots for this, numbing up that, broken ribs, shoulders, Grade 3, hanging on by limbs just to play. And I can understand why Marty thinks like that."
Garoppolo was pressed into action to begin the 2016 season because Tom Brady had been suspended for the first four games due to his involvement in the Deflate Gate scandal. But then Garoppolo suffered the left shoulder injury in Week 2 of that season.
Fast forward five years and Bennett ripped into Garoppolo.
"Bro, we lost two games," Bennett said to Devin and Jason McCourty on their "Double Coverage" podcast last October. "One of them was because Jimmy Garoppolo was being a b---h. He decided not to play right before the game. Jacoby [Brissett] came out and played with a f---ed up thumb and played his heart out, but Jimmy was just being a b---h about it all.
"That's why he ... you can't win with a b---h for a quarterback, first of all. That was the whole thing with him: He didn't want to come out and do anything because his agent was trying to protect his body or some s--t like that. Which, I can't fault him for that. But like, you should have made that decision on Thursday. Now it's Sunday.
"So anyways, he's not going out there, so now Jacoby straps up and we lost to the Buffalo Bills. We shouldn't have lost. It was just last-minute, trying to make adjustments for what Jacoby could do."
Despite what former Patriots players think about Garoppolo, the quarterback has been continuously showered with praise by his current 49ers teammates over the last few years.
Now, as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Garoppolo is hoping the 49ers can find a trade partner that will allow him to continue his career. San Francisco selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and plans to turn the team over to the North Dakota State product in 2022.