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Why didn’t Jimmy Garoppolo have foot surgery during the 2022 season?

Chris Simms explains to Mike Florio how Jimmy Garoppolo landed No. 22 on his Top 40 QB Countdown, given his composure in tight situations but occasional “tropic thunder” moments.

After then-49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a foot injury in December 2022, Adam Schefter of reported that Garoppolo did not need foot surgery, and that he could return to action in seven or eight weeks.

So he didn’t have surgery. And he supposedly was on track to returning, to the point at which some wondered whether he could have suited up for the fateful NFC Championship game, which saw the 49ers eventually have no healthy quarterbacks.

It’s now clear that Garoppolo wasn’t malingering. It’s also now clear that he should have had the surgery in December.

By the time Garoppolo became a free agent, the foot had not healed. It had not healed to the point at which the Raiders refused to pay him an $11.25 million signing bonus, instead shifting the money to 2023 base salary -- money he’ll never earn if the surgery failed to repair the foot.

Even if the surgery works, there’s a lingering question that is currently ricocheting around the NFL grapevine. Why didn’t he have surgery in December?

The most obvious explanation from the team’s perspective is that the 49ers thought he’d be able to return for the Super Bowl, if the 49ers had made it that far. It’s not clear whether that would have been the case.

A month later, the Raiders weren’t comfortable clearing him without surgery. At times, different doctors from different teams will have different opinions about the same injury. But it would have been odd for the 49ers to welcome him back just a few weeks before the Raiders weren’t comfortable welcoming him in.

The 49ers also might not have been inclined to push for surgery because, either way, he wouldn’t have been ready to play at any point in the postseason.

Then there’s the reality that, as one league source astutely pointed out, Garoppolo had to want to go under the knife. There’s a good chance he just didn’t want the surgery.

For Lisfranc injuries, the question becomes spacing of the bones. At a certain amount of spacing, the foot becomes unstable. Within a certain range, the injury can be repaired with rehab. Garoppolo might have decided to opt for a conservative approach (remember, he delayed shoulder surgery in 2022), hoping that rehab would work.

Ultimately, it didn’t. Ultimately, he needed surgery. Even then, the question becomes whether the surgery will work.

The Raiders and Garoppolo assume it will. The revised contract, including the eliminated signing bonus and the waiver that potentially keeps Garoppolo from every receiving a cent from the Raiders, creates a different vibe.

Time will tell whether it works. If it doesn’t, the Raiders will have a problem at the most important position on the field. And Garoppolo will be a man without a country -- and without compensation.