It is not Jimmy Garoppolo’s playing ability that warrants much discussion about his future with the 49ers, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy says.
Dungy believes the only question that faces 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan is Garoppolo’s ability to remain healthy.
Dungy, an analyst for NBC Sports, posed the question on 49ers Talk about Garoppolo that the 49ers must answer for themselves.
“Do we think Jimmy Garoppolo can play and stay healthy?” Dungy asked. “If we do, then we don’t need to address it (the quarterback position) because he is good enough to win a Super Bowl for us.”
The numbers seem to support Dungy’s observation.
Garoppolo has played more than six games just once in his seven-year NFL career. That season, the 49ers went 13-3 in the 2019 regular season, rolled through the NFC playoffs and lost in Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Jimmy Garoppolo showed us last year that he is capable of playing quarterback at a high level,” Dungy said. “In the games he’s played, they got an unbelievable winning percentage. He’s quarterbacked them to a Super Bowl.
“The problem is, he hasn’t been on the field when they really needed him.”
Garoppolo was set to start four games for the New England Patriots at the beginning of the 2016 season when Tom Brady was serving a suspension. Garoppolo sustained a right shoulder injury in his second game.
In 2018, he was the 49ers’ starter to open the season. But near the end of the third game, he sustained a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee.
After playing every game of the 2019 season, Garoppolo sustained a high-ankle sprain in the first quarter of the second game. He aggravated the injury upon his return to action and ended up appearing in just six games.
Lynch and Shanahan have given Garoppolo votes of confidence, saying they expect him to be the starter in 2021. There is a lot of conjecture whether the 49ers this offseason should look for a replacement for Garoppolo, who has two years remaining on his contract.
“That’s what the 49ers’ brass has to come to grips with,” Dungy said. “Is he a guy who can play the type of game that he plays and stay healthy? If they think he can, then I think he’s the answer. But if you don’t think he can, you got to find a quarterback who’s going to be available.
“Are these situations that just happen and if we go five more years they might not happen again? Or does Jimmy play in such a way, can he learn how to get away from people?"