Steve Young and Jimmy Garoppolo did not spend a lot of time together before the 49ers’ Monday night game last month, but it was a meaningful interaction.
Young, the legendary 49ers quarterback and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was at Levi’s Stadium for the 49ers-Rams game in his analyst role for ESPN on Nov. 15.
Young was situated on the sideline when Garoppolo came out of the 49ers' locker room to begin his warmup routine more than an hour before kickoff.
“Jimmy ran right up to me and I really appreciated that,” Young said on 49ers Talk. “It warmed my heart and, I got to be honest with you, that meant a lot to me that he’d do that.”
Young said he has appreciated from afar how Garoppolo has maintained his professionalism through what has unquestionably been a difficult season.
He said he expressed those thoughts directly to Garoppolo.
“I told him how much I thought about how he’s handling it,” Young said. “You know how it is, you get on the field and you have 30 seconds, but that’s what I told him: ‘I can’t believe how well you’re handling it.’”
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan informed Garoppolo on March 26 of their decision to trade up to No. 3 overall to select the 49ers’ quarterback of the future.
The 49ers dealt the No. 12 overall pick this year, as well as first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, as well as a third-round pick in 2022, to move into position for Garoppolo's eventual replacement.
A month later, the 49ers selected Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. Garoppolo told Lynch and Shanahan all he wanted was a chance to compete for the starting job.
Through it all, Garoppolo said and did all the right things.
He held onto the starting job even as Lance had an eye-opening training camp.
And through the ups and downs of a 6-6 season, Garoppolo certainly carried himself with class.
“Three or four times this year, I’ve thought to myself, I tip my cap to Jimmy Garoppolo, because the coach had thrown all the assets in the bank to get rid of me, but I’m still here, and I’m playing ball, and somehow our relationship is not great, but I’m just trying to do my best,” Young said.
“He just has a great spirit about him, and I really appreciate that. And I know why guys love him in the locker room. And I would, too.”