Rumors among the 49ers locker room arose last week regarding the quarterback position. Now there is an immense amount of pressure on Kyle Shanahan and his team to win a championship in 2022.
Revenge Tour 3.0
The 49ers starting quarterback, Trey Lance suffered a season-ending injury last week versus Seattle. Back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will now get another crack at winning a Super Bowl with a loaded roster. Rumors circulated last week that veteran players were not happy with the decision to start Trey Lance over Jimmy Garoppolo.
Because of the injury to Lance, part of Kyle Shanahan’s locker room is getting what some supposedly asked for. In 2019 with a healthy roster, San Francisco found themselves in Super Bowl 54. Many of their key players extended their contracts and were one game away from another Super Bowl appearance in 2021. Interestingly enough, many similarities exist between 2019 and 2021.
In both deep playoff runs, the 49ers were relatively healthy, had a veteran presence, a vaunted defense, a tremendous running game, and Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. In the 2019 Super Bowl, San Francisco held a 20-10 lead late into the fourth quarter. Their defense stifled Patrick Mahomes for three and a half quarters. The 49ers’ offense needed to sustain drives and simply run the clock, however, they failed.
Who’s To Blame For The 49ers?
A lot of fans blamed the defense for not holding a ten-point lead, but there is an alternate perspective. San Francisco’s offense completely stalled, only gaining forty-nine yards on their last four drives (one first down per drive). Simply not good enough. After the game, Kyle Shanahan and members of the 49ers organization partied despite losing a huge game. A very questionable decision.
After the game, Joe Staley the left tackle said Jimmy Garoppolo checked out of runs into passes late in the game. Additionally, Kansas City Chief players told reporters they were happy the 49ers stopped running the football. Based on those two pieces of information, it is fair to asses more blame on Garoppolo for this game, especially for his performance in the fourth quarter.
The 2021 Season And Losing In The NFC Championship Game
Fast forward two years and the 49ers found themselves clawing their way to a playoff berth. San Francisco had a record of 8-7 entering Week 17 and was in a must-win scenario. Trey Lance led the team to a win against the Houston Texans, closing the game 6-10 through the air, with two touchdowns, and no turnovers.
Needing a win in Week 18, a Jimmy Garoppolo offense was down 17-3 at halftime. They simply could not score any points, let alone move the football early. In the second half, Kyle Shanahan called creative plays to get them back into the game. Deebo Samuel scored a rushing and passing touchdown to tie the game, saving their season. Needing a touchdown, Garoppolo led a touchdown drive forcing overtime. After kicking a field goal, the defense came up with a game-clinching turnover sending the 49ers into the playoffs.
Before we knew it, San Francisco was back in the NFC Championship game against the Rams. A few minutes into the third quarter, the 49ers led 17-14. Again, the defense held Matthew Stafford at bay long enough for the offense to score points. During the final 12 minutes of regulation, Kyle Shanahan’s offense did not net a single yard. Baffling but shocking? Not at all.
Who’s to blame this time? We blamed Jimmy Garoppolo for 2019, but this time Kyle deserves a little more blame. Kyle knew the limitations of his quarterback. However, late in the game the 49ers faced a second down and lost a yard. Eventually, they ended up turning the ball over on downs with Deebo Samuel on the sideline. Also, Kyle called a play that he used previously against Green Bay the week before which made it predictable. Questionable decision.
The 49ers Choked
Two times the 49ers’ offense needed either first downs, yards, or points, they were unsuccessful. Now, we’re going to see this same offense in 2022. Why? Jimmy Garoppolo failed to move the offense in the most important moments. At the same time, Shanahan didn’t put plays together to put the offense in a good position either.
The organization drafted Trey Lance to take the offense to the next level, but part of the locker room supposedly never bought in. Another blunder on the part of Kyle Shanahan and the organization not fully giving Lance everything he needed to succeed if this is true.
The Human Side Of Football
In any high-level sport, unity and “buy-in” are almost as important as execution. If a team cannot fully get behind a plan, the plan won’t succeed, especially in football. Chris Simms, a close friend of the Shanahans spoke on the matter.
Also, Kyle Juszczyk made a statement saying having Jimmy in the game for Week Two “felt like Niners football”.
According to recent history, Jimmy Garoppolo and current offensive players failed to move the football in crucial, historical moments.
Despite having a 4-2 record, Garoppolo has only four touchdowns and six interceptions in his playoff career. The 49ers are in “groundhog day” running it back with the same personnel. With a Super Bowl on everyone’s mind, they better get it done this time. If these rumors are true, it puts a lot of pressure on players like Juszczyk, Kittle, Armstead and other veterans to win now.
Secondly, Kyle Shanahan used Trey Lance irresponsibly and has yet to develop him the way many had hoped. This was plan B, however, the coaching staff didn’t let Trey play much from the pocket in Week Two and now he is injured. Additionally, it was Kyle and John’s decision to bring Garoppolo back during training camp.
Who Is More To Blame For 2022?
While both Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo both share the blame, ultimately, the locker room is to blame. On Sunday Night Football, Jimmy Garoppolo single-handedly lost the football game. First, he missed multiple opportunities to put points on the board not locating Deebo Samuel for a touchdown on the right sideline. Second, he stepped out of the end-zone for a safety. Third, he threw a critical interception late in the football game into double coverage.
However, as stated before, the locker room, specifically some of the veterans, supposedly wanted this. In Week One, Mike McGlinchey gave up a sack and jogged off to the sideline. In between Week One and Week Two after a loss, the locker room rumors about Garoppolo making the team better arose – what impeccable timing? Well, in Week Three, Jimmy G was the reason the 49ers lost. What is the locker room going to say now?
It seems like a Super Bowl is out the window at this point, which is sad. It seems like the organization can’t get out of its own way.