The San Francisco 49ers, after a stupefying stretch in which three head coaches were fired within a two-year period, finally had some uplifting news to broadcast to the masses in early 2018. They’d just given Jimmy Garoppolo a five-year, $137.5 million contract that carried the highest annual value in NFL history, a conspicuous display of affection to a quarterback who had started just seven career games.
At a jubilant news conference carried live by NFL Network, the man who’d been dubbed “Jimmy Jesus” during a resplendent, five-game stretch to close the 2017 season sat between general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan and told his bosses, and America: “I’m excited for this next year, but like John said, we’ve got a lot of work to do. So, we’re looking forward to it.”
When the news conference ended, Garoppolo shook hands, flashed his multimillion-dollar smile and disappeared into the offseason ether. That important work, to his coaches’ chagrin, would have to wait.
“Once he left that press conference, nobody heard from him for weeks and weeks,” recalled one member of that coaching staff. “He didn’t return calls, he didn’t return texts — he basically just vanished. And we were looking at each other going, ‘What just happened?’”
The Jimmy G. Vanishing Act, which would become a staple of subsequent offseasons (last year’s being a glaring exception), is worth pondering as we prepare to dive into the Trey Lance Era.
This report comes from a longtime, reliable reporter in Mike Silver and 100% seems like something Jimmy Garoppolo would do. I mean come on think about it. He'd just escaped the No Fun Zone that is the New England Patriots franchise not long before Tom Brady lost his shit and got driven away. Led the 49ers to five straight victories to close out his age-26 season. Was a young, single, tall, dark and handsome dude in San Francisco. Got PAID. It all adds up.
When he made headlines for taking that porn star on a date, it's an even better story now that we know the savvy quarterback probably had his 49ers leadership contacts all temporarily blocked so he wouldn't have to hear them ramble on about any sort of "issues" they might have with that, if any.
I almost can't blame Jimmy G for any of this. Like cool man, that kind of a power move to ghost the team initially and be this kind of mysterious figure…I can dig it to an extent. But to do it in all the subsequent offseasons, when you have obvious room to improve at your craft as a quarterback and fail to stay healthy on a consistent basis? Yeah geez, maybe injuries weren't the overriding reason the Niners decided to boot your ass, mortgage some future drafts and go with Trey Lance as the new long-term QB.
Now let's take a deep breath and not get it too twisted. By all accounts, once San Francisco moved all the way up to No. 3 overall in order to draft Lance, Garoppolo handled the situation like a complete pro. All his teammates rave about Garoppolo's work ethic, his poise, moxie, leadership, and how easy he is to get along with. Once he lost most of a second season due to injury, I think he was scared straight and realized it might actually be a good idea to engage with the team outside of training camp and the season itself.
Getting away from the grind that is pro football, at least for a short while, is a healthy thing to do. I can only imagine the pressures that come with being a starting QB in general, much less for an organization who's previously employed Joe Montana and Steve Young. But to circle around to the top of this………..that's why they paid you the big bucks, Jimmy G!!
AND I'M NOT SAYING JIMMY G IS A BAD PLAYER or was during his tenure in the Bay Area. No need to belabor the point. Jimmy received the message. He responded in 2021 by leading the 49ers to the NFC title game for his second healthy season in a row. I can't wait to see what's next for him. Would just kind of suck if he went to Cleveland with the shit show that's going on there.
All these qualifying statements are important because I want to make clear Jimmy G. is the man (for the most part). just that…I forget the precise cliche. Something like, "You win or lose games in the offseason." Might be total bullshit. Don't know.
I wouldn't usually take a report and run with it to such a degree, but Silver is plugged-in AF to the 49ers. This information is getting out for a reason. I don't think it's covering their asses in case Lance is a bust, although there may be like a 2% hint of that. If this report is to be believed, what we know there's at least some truth to now is that Garoppolo may have sold himself short and didn't push that liiiiiiiiittle bit extra to reach his ceiling in San Francisco. I guess we'll never know for sure. Whatever the case may have been, this report is spicy as hell.
I'm beyond ready to see what Kyle Shanahan can do with a dual-threat, moldable and high football IQ signal-caller like Lance in the coming years. Should be electric.