The San Francisco 49ers should be thanking their lucky stars that they are in the position that they currently are. After defeating the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 11, the 49ers are now tied atop the NFC West for first place along with the Seattle Seahawks.
San Francisco is currently riding a three-game winning streak as they look like the Super Bowl contender that many predicted them to be coming into the season. A big reason for that is they have Jimmy Garoppolo back under center as the starting quarterback.
Throughout the offseason, it looked as if Garoppolo’s tenure with the team would be coming to an end. The 49ers were ready to hand the starting job over to Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. Lance has a very different skill set from Garoppolo, so he was given the entire offseason to work with the starters and build chemistry.
It felt like a matter of when, not if, Garoppolo would be traded. But, off-season surgery on his shoulder complicated things. That ended up being a blessing in disguise for San Francisco, as they turned to Garoppolo as the starter once again after Lance was injured in Week 2 against the Seahawks.
Garoppolo looks poised to lead the 49ers on another deep playoff run. He has helped them to the NFC Championship Game twice, once making the Super Bowl. With the talent on this roster, a third trip wouldn’t surprise anyone and head coach Kyle Shanahan is certainly grateful to be in this position.
“Jimmy’s doing a great job,” Shanahan said following the team’s victory Monday night. “Jimmy always has. When Jimmy’s been healthy out there, we’ve had our guys around him, he plays at a high level, and I think he did that today as good as he has. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Garoppolo was excellent against the Cardinals, completing 20-of-29 pass attempts for 228 yards and four touchdowns; two to each of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle. There are even more weapons with running backs Christian McCaffery and Elijah Moore and hybrid do-it-all weapon Deebo Samuel.
If the 49ers can play offense anywhere near that level consistently, they could very well be the favorites for the Lombardi Trophy. Already with arguably the best defense in the league, the 49ers lucked out having Garoppolo on the roster after taking a pay cut, money he will almost certainly recoup this upcoming offseason as a free agent.