Nine months after Kyle Shanahan, asked last April if Jimmy Garoppolo would be on the roster, uttered the legendary words, “I can’t guarantee we’ll be alive on Sunday” — here we are, wondering if Jimmy G will be under center on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Jimmy G. The Comeback Kid.
It’s just that this comeback involves an avulsion fracture, a chipped bone, lots of pain, a thumb brace, an F-bomb and the sensation of a web tearing in his hand.
Feels great, baby.
Before penning the first Jock Blog of 2022, I went back to that April 2021 Jock Blog when Shanahan and general manager John Lynch held a press conference after the drafting of Trey Lance. They made it sound, for all intents and purposes, that Garoppolo’s days as a 49er might be done. Rumors of trades abounded. Lance’s 21-year-old bright future loomed.
I penned a requiem to Jimmy G, remembering the Lou Murphy touchdown vs Seattle in the drizzle in 2017, all the way through glorious shootout wins at New Orleans and Seattle, up to and including an overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders in a Super Bowl, and then a dramatic move by Kyle and John to move heaven, Earth and three first-rounders for a shiny new toy not named Jimmy.
But they make electrician’s sons tough in the Chicago suburbs. Garoppolo asked for a chance to compete, and despite tidal waves of praise for Lance in training camp, earned Kyle’s trust and the starting gig. You can’t keep a strong jawline down, it turns out.
You know the rest: a 3-5 start, inducing howls of disgust from the Twitter-scenti. (One of those five losses was Trey Lance’s uneven rookie debut in Arizona.)
Then, a 6-2 surge from the 49ers, confusing and frightening Jimmy Haters. (One of those six was a Trey Lance win over Houston.) That leads us to the doorstep of the most fun 49ers regular season game since that 2019 season finale up in the House Where Pete Carroll Chews Gum.
49ers. Rams. Playoffs. Do or die. **
(** = pending how you feel about Matt Ryan and the Falcons saving your bacon with a win over the Saints.)
Listen, I ain’t no Marcus Welby, so I can’t tell you if Garoppolo should or should not start, medically-speaking.
What I do know is, the best story for those of us who love good stories is Jim Garoppolo, wounded, injured, in pain, making the start in L.A. and winning the game.
It’s the perfect coda to a five-year run that featured of lots of wins (30-14), lots of injuries (25 missed starts) and lots of good will from his teammates, who seem to love the blue-collar gentleman who has never complained, bitched, griped, whined or leaked negative vibes, even after the 49ers told him he was a rental.
Now, I wouldn’t presume to know how he’d be able to go in a playoff game, should the 49ers win. Maybe he’d find some way to play through pain and launch a miracle run. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to go, and we’d see the fascinating sight of the rookie tasting post-season football. Maybe he’d be one and done, and it’ll be time to sign the yearbooks, wish everyone a good summer and go on to 2022 in Trey’s hands.
That’s all to be determined.
What I am determining here in the Jock Blog is that my vote is for Jimmy to start, for all the reasons.
He’s at practice, slinging Garoppolo-esque passes, even through the pain. You can even squint your eyes and imagine George Kittle (conspicuously absent from Trey Lance’s progressions) hauling them in. He’s gutting it out, true to form. He’s on his way out (at least I think he is) and beating the Rams in L.A. to clinch a playoff spot would sort of be the ultimate Jimmy G thing — do it for the team, even when the doubters are packing his bags.
Does he give the team the best chance to win? Have you seen his record against the Rams?
I can’t help it. I like the guy. He’s been a good 49er. He’s not Joe Montana or Steve Young. He’s not even Jeff Garcia. But he’s Jimmy G and he’s been a boon to the franchise and I’m ready for one more chapter.
No requiem just yet.