With the 49ers preparing to face the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, last year's misery seems like a distant nightmare.
But Week 3 of the 2018 season was very much a reality. There was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo writhing in pain on the ground at Arrowhead Stadium after tearing his ACL. The newly-minted franchise quarterback was done for the season, and the 49ers spiraled to a 4-12 finish that left everyone wondering what could have been.
After leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC this season, Garoppolo now sees the benefit of what likely was one of the worst days of his life. Not just because of what this season has been for the 49ers, but also because of what that 4-12 record led to.
“Things have a way of working out," Garoppolo said Wednesday. “I always told myself it was a blessing in disguise, the ACL.
“We got Bosa out of it. That’s a pretty good trade-off, I guess. But yeah, things have a way of working out I guess. This ride is crazy. You just got to roll with the punches."
Nick Bosa, who the 49ers selected with the No. 2 overall draft pick last April, has been a key cog in the best defensive front in the NFL. After getting fully healthy following the 49ers' bye week, Bosa was a terror on opposing offenses, notching 10 sacks, 80 pressures, 18 QB hits and 52 QB hurries so far this season.
Bosa has shown up in the playoffs as well. He was huge in the 49ers' divisional-round victory over the Minnesota Vikings, helping shut down running back Dalvin Cook so the pass rush could get after quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Going 4-12 wasn't fun for anyone, but getting Bosa -- thanks to the Arizona Cardinals drafting quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall -- was well worth the momentary misery.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.