© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
This time last year, Jimmy Garoppolo was still figuring out how to move in the pocket. With a prominent brace on his left knee, Garoppolo was far from the fluid quarterback he became, or rediscovered, by season’s end.
Now, Garoppolo doesn’t have to worry about any of that knee pain, tightness, or mental trepidation that comes with a long recovery. This time he’s just dealing with training camp in the midst of a global pandemic which has hit the United States worse than any other country on the planet.
Or as Garoppolo puts it: “it’s an it is what it is type thing.”
Garoppolo’s point, as typified by brevity and simplicity, is that he, along with Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch and Richard Sherman, believe the 49ers have taken all the precautions they probably should be taking at this juncture. Testing is daily, anyone in the facility (whether inside or out) is asked to keep their mask on when possible, and interactions are suggested to be short and from six-plus feet apart.
“It’s definitely different,” Garoppolo said. “I mean your morning takes longer to come in. You got to go through all the testing, answer the survey and all that. There’s a lot of little pieces that go into it, but like anything, it’s part of your routine now. So you get used to it and you adapt to it, but I think the biggest difference is just the time efficiency. You can’t really go from one thing to the next. It’s different than it was before.”
The oddities of this season will be a constant. When games are played, likely with no fans, or very few, it will simultaneously provide that familiar sight of NFL games, but with an Orwelian twist, heightened by silence, and/or a potential institution of fake fan noise.
For a quarterback on the road, that silence is a welcoming proposition.
“No silent count will be needed on the road, so that’s a luxury that I’m pretty excited about,” Garoppolo said. “It’ll be different. I mean you’ll have to bring your own juice. Our team that’s one thing that we don’t have a problem with, though, it’s bringing the energy. We bring it every day in practice and you see it out there during training camp already. I mean the first walkthrough was basically like a full speed.”
“Juice” in that sense, means a sort of hype-oriented energy, but if you’re not visualizing Garoppolo hauling in a half ton of juice boxes in a Jordan Brand bag for his teammates, you’re not having enough fun.
The now 28-year-old starting quarterback will enter this year with a full season of experience which included a devastating Super Bowl loss, perhaps the most valuable experience a quarterback can have.
He made a point to remind folks that he believes his apex is years away.
“I think having my first full season under my belt, coming off the ACL and everything like that and everything that went into that season, it will only help me going forward,” Garoppolo said. “So I think, in terms of being a quarterback, I still have a long way to go. I’m still pretty relatively young for a quarterback, just in terms of playing time, so I think as a quarterback you got to get out there, get the reps, play, getting live action; I think having a full season under my belt will help me going forward.”