SANTA CLARA — It might have seemed like a botched move a few weeks ago but now, 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan are looking pretty smart for keeping Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster.
Early in the first quarter of the 49ers' matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, quarterback Trey Lance went down with a significant ankle injury. The young quarterback left the field on a cart after an aircast was placed on his lower leg. Lance with was quickly ruled out by San Francisco.
Garoppolo, who did not practice with the team at all during training camp, quickly started warming up and entered the game. On his first appearance as the starting quarterback for Shanahan and the 49ers offense, Garoppolo completed a short pass on third down, leading to a Robbie Gould field goal.
On the ensuing drive, Garoppolo didn’t miss a beat, driving down the field in a four-play, 78-yard series that ended with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Ross Dwelley. The drive put the team up 13-0 over their division rival.
Lynch and Shanahan were criticized for their decision to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft to take Lance when they had Garoppolo on the roster and then again for their inability to trade away Garoppolo during the offseason to recoup draft capital. Now they might just be having the last laugh.
Not only does the 49ers' brain trust have the most capable back up ready to take over the helm in Santa Clara, they have Garoppolo at a huge discount. Instead of the $24.2 million that the club owed Garoppolo before his contract was restructured, their initial tab is $6.5 million guaranteed.
Of course Garoppolo has already made more than that with built-in incentives for games played and benchmarks reached. The Eastern Illinois product could earn up to $15.45 million with bonuses.
The 49ers are set in a way that they won't skip a beat with a roster that is primed to win now and Garoppolo can set up his future with a successful season. Sometimes everything does happen for a reason.