Jimmy Garoppolo began the 2021 season as the San Francisco 49ers starter but not far in the background stood rookie quarterback Trey Lance, a player the organization clearly believed could be the future of the team.
A run in the playoffs renewed hope in Garoppolo but after Sunday’s loss in the NFC Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams, questions about his future took center stage once again.
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“I think these next couple days, it’ll really start to settle in a little bit,” he told reporters after the game. “Emotions are high after a game, win or loss. It’s one of those things you gotta be glad it happened. Just smile from it, think about the good things. We’ll see what happens in these next couple days, weeks, whatever. I love this team. Just the fight and the battle in this team throughout the entire year has been really impressive. And I love those guys.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan, often Garoppolo’s biggest supporter and critic this season, praised the resilient quarterback but declined to talk about the future.
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“I love Jimmy,” he said. “I’m not gonna sit here and make a farewell statement or anything right now. It’s the last stuff on my mind. Jimmy has battled his ass off. He battled today. He did some unbelievable things today. I love coaching Jimmy.”
Garoppolo’s performance on Sunday was a mix of dull and bright moments – summing up much of how his season with the Niners went. He himself described it as a “roller coaster of a year.”
“I love this team, I’ve said it before to you guys,” Garoppolo said. “Just everything we’ve been through, starting with the offseason, into training camp. It was a roller coaster of a year, it really was. But we fought through it. Good teams, we were a resilient team, and that’s what good teams do, you fight through things like that and come out better at the other end of it.”
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The Niners committed to Garoppolo when he signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract in 2018. He battled through injuries to bring San Francisco to two conference championships and one Super Bowl but struggled when it mattered most. Seemingly aware of the situation, the 49ers gave up a significant amount of draft capital in order to draft Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.
Whether he stays or goes, one thing is certain for Garoppolo: “I got no regrets for this year.”