Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo thinks ACL tear was 'blessing in disguise'

Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo thinks ACL tear was 'blessing in disguise'

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. 

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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.

Bosa and Garoppolo have to hang one more pelt on their wall to punch the 49ers' ticket to Miami and Super Bowl LIV. Perhaps then Jimmy G will get the respect Bosa thinks he deserves.

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.

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

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In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Kyle Shanahan escaped to Cabo San Lucas shortly after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to get away from it all.

Shanahan ended up “randomly” spending time with 49ers players George Kittle, Nick Mullens, Trent Taylor and Levine Toilolo, who also went to Mexico for a vacation and some golf.

"I think we broke a record," Shanahan said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We played like nine holes in five hours."

Kittle, an All-Pro tight end, is in line for a massive contract extension this offseason. This is the first time he can renegotiate a new contract after coming to the 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.

The next time Kittle steps on the field with the 49ers, he is expected to have a new deal that will make him the highest-paid tight end in the league.

He might have given away some of his negotiating power while confiding in Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife.

“He told my wife how much he liked it here (with the 49ers),” Shanahan said. “He even told my wife to promise not to tell me until after he signs. She told me. She’s my wife.”

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Kittle made base salaries of $465,000, $555,000 and $645,000 in his first three NFL seasons. His salary is scheduled to increase to $2.144 million in 2020 with a performance bonus. His next contract is expected to worth more than $12 million per season.

Kittle was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time last season. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. In 2018, Kittle set the NFL single-season record for a tight end with 1,377 receiving yards.