Believe it or not, things are going pretty well for the 49ers right now. Their winless record might tell you the exact opposite since the entire point of playing football is to win the game, but they have at least made progress. Last week when they traded their 2018 second-round draft pick for Jimmy Garoppolo, they traded for the face of the franchise.
As you can tell by looking around the league, finding the right QB is the first step, which San Francisco believes they’ve made. The only issue is the lingering question of Garoppolo’s legitimacy. This team may not have a single win, but the rest of the season couldn’t be more important for Jimmy G and the future of this franchise.
You never expect to play meaningful football when you’re winless through nine games. The best case scenario is football decides to give your team a mulligan for the rest of the season, allow you to forfeit the rest of your games, and let fans enjoy the remaining seven weeks by watching NFL Red Zone. It’s a heaven that does not exist, but it’s still a time where the performance of your players normally means nothing. As you could’ve guessed, this situation is no longer normal with Garoppolo in the fold.
To the common eye, it looks like nothing has changed for this season. The 49ers are still a winless team that has less promise than any movie Adam Sandler has been involved in for the past decade. With Garoppolo currently on the bench, it’s business as usual for a team that is happy with adding another top-tier player at the front of this year’s draft.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said plan remains to have C.J. Beathard start at QB on Sunday with Jimmy Garoppolo as… https://t.co/rUFQ3q8nfN
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) November 3, 2017
While that may be fine for the 49ers fans who have already put their jerseys back in the storage bin and have been wearing their Warriors onesies for weeks, that is not the case for this team. Even though Garoppolo has his new home in San Francisco and is expected to be treated as the head honcho next season, we likely won’t have to wait a full year to see a fresh start for the man who was once believed to be the heir to the Brady throne.
49ers have the Giants at home next week. Garoppolo needs to start
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 5, 2017
This isn’t the beginning of the future or a glimpse into what the 49ers could be dealing with for the next decade. That’s not what it is at all. What Garoppolo will be dealing with during his first season in San Francisco is a trial run.
Garoppolo may be talented, but the man who has spent the majority of the last four years holding a clipboard isn’t exactly proven. People get excited when they see a glimpse of what could be, which is why the Colts are excited about what’s currently happening with Jacoby Brissett.
It’s also exactly what happened last year when the Cowboys continued to ride Dak Prescott, thus ending Tony Romo’s career. It’s a sensation that has swept the NFL before and is currently engulfing San Francisco, yet it could have a chance to cease immediately if he does not put up stats similar to the ones during his small window of opportunity last season.
Jimmy Garoppolo's stats as a starter (2 games):
496 passing yards
— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) October 31, 2017
The whole “winning games” thing might be a little bit different considering the 49ers are as close to the Patriots as a gnat is to a T-Rex, but the efficiency should hopefully be similar. That’s the problem with Garoppolo right now. He had two starts in his career, brought home two victories, and set the bar incredibly high for himself. That was supposed to get him a handsome payday once he hit free agency, but now he’s in this uncharted territory as a professional where he actually has to prove himself.
Let’s face it, even though the Patriots expect nothing but wins every time they take the field, victories were not set in stone when he replaced Brady for the first two games of his four-game suspension last season. They were going up against a tough Cardinals defense and the division rival Dolphins. If he somehow finished 1-1, people who not have lost their minds. That happened when he actually played well.
Everyone in New England went so crazy for Brady 2.0 that they thought they still had a dynasty lined up when TB12 retired but the scary truth is, he could be just like everyone else who has stood in the GOAT’s shadow for too long.
Tom Brady's backups have not had much long-term success outside of New England.
Jimmy Garoppolo is latest who will get a chance elsewhere pic.twitter.com/51JYFjP38o
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 31, 2017
Just look at what Matt Cassel did before he left the Patriots. He filled in for Brady when he went down in the very first game of the season back in 2008. He put up 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and led the team to a 10-5 record. Do you think the 49ers would be pumped if they ended up trading a second-round draft pick for the next Matt Cassel? Absolutely not.
What the 49ers are now dealing with is a Brock Osweiler situation. Ozzy started enough games present the illusion he was a solid quarterback, while Peyton Manning stepped in during the late stretch of the season to lead his team to a Super Bowl. That small sample size earned Osweiler a four-year deal worth $72 million. No one expects Garoppolo to be the next Osweiler, but is it truly out of the question to think he could be the product of the system and not the face of the future?
Jimmy Garoppolo has a chance to prove he's either a franchise QB or the most overrated talked-about backup QB of all-time.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 1, 2017
The 49ers could end up proving they were too eager about a quarterback who hasn’t exactly won anything, but it’s Garoppolo who has everything to lose.
In a matter of days, he can go from one of the highly anticipated free agents to hit the market in 2018 to a product of the system. This trade could be an open door filled with opportunities for him, or it could be an eye-opening experience that he isn’t good enough to carry a team. It’s hard to say that Garoppolo would’ve been better off testing his luck and hitting free agency, but he’ll certainly have to prove it.
It’s the difference between being Alex Smith or Brock Osweiler. Who knew the second half of the season for a team this bad could be so meaningful?