The Jimmy Garoppolo era as officially begun in Santa Clara. It may go back on pause, but, for better or worse, it’s started.
As San Francisco’s 10th loss of the season, this one to the Seattle Seahawks (because that seems to be a thing) was winding down, quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was hit 13 times and sacked three times today, went out of the game.
Garoppolo came in to a bevy of expectations, and he did not disappoint.
Garoppolo’s debut could not have been scripted better – at least the result of it – and it brings up a quarterback conundrum for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers.
With 1:07 left in the game, #10 came in for three impressive plays – a four-yard scramble and two completions, one of which was a 10-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy. Granted it was three plays and the game was long over, but Garoppolo looked solid and confident and like a QB1. But again, three plays.
So, do the 49ers have themselves a quarterback controversy? When asked if the Jimmy effect Sunday will affect who starts at quarterback against the Chicago Bears, Shanahan said, “…[T]hose plays have nothing to do with anything. That’s just running around and [he] made a great play, but those have no bearing on it at all.”
What will have bearing will be the extent of Beathard’s injury. That will be the main factor.
“I’ll get an MRI tomorrow morning and really get some insight on what exactly it is,” said Beathard. “It may just be a bruise to the knee. You don’t know. I’m trying to get back out there as soon as possible. Obviously, I don’t think anything’s torn or anything like that. It doesn’t feel like it.”
Since coming in against the Washington Redskins on October 15, Beathard has been hit over 5 times and sacked 19. Those are insane numbers, but they are also numbers that explain why the 49ers don’t want to put their future franchise quarterback behind a sub-par offensive line, while he’s still learning the playbook and the offense. Nobody should be getting beat up like that, but I see where the 49ers are coming from.
“It all factors in,” Shanahan said.” I want to give a guy a chance to be successful and we’ve got to do a better job of protecting [Beathard]. I thought we did that verses New York. We were able to be in a game where we were able to be more balanced. Tried very hard to keep this game like that, but late in the second half it got a little bit out of hand. But, it was similar to that in the first half too. It’s a tough position to be in and you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but Jimmy will have another week. We’ll watch this tape tomorrow, work with him Monday and Tuesday and see what happens in practice for Wednesday.”
For Garoppolo’s part, he said it felt good to get in the game, but he is still learning the offense.
“I’ve been saying this for the past couple weeks now, it’s like a different language,” Garoppolo said. “Similar concepts, but different names and everything. That’s part of being a quarterback. There are little things that people don’t see outside of the locker room. You need to master those things and I’m in a situation where you have to do it as fast as possible.”
I’m not the coach of the 49ers – which is best for everyone in involved – but I do see all sides of this argument. However, they brought Garoppolo to Santa Clara midseason, knowing what the pieces were around him. No, he didn’t come to save the season, but he’s in the Bay Area now, and maybe it’s time to rip off the band-aid and see how he does. He my fare better. He may not get so beat up.
And I say that as someone who really like C.J. Beathard. He has put his heart and soul into every game. He is easily one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen. But the reality is, at least for now, he is a back-up quarterback, and it’s almost unfair to keep throwing him out there to get beat up (though I’m sure he’d rather be playing than not).
At the end of the day, do the 49ers have a quarterback controversy? No. Do they have a quarterback conundrum? Yes. Beathard’s health may make the decision of Shanahan and the organization, but they’ve got to play Jimmy sometime. Perhaps in his hometown of Chicago against a not-so-good Bears team is a good way to go.
“There’s never an easy situation to go into, being the backup,” said Garoppolo. “I’ve experienced both ends of it. You always have to be ready. I’ve been saying it for the past four years. You never know when your time is going to come, if it’s going to come, so when it does you’ve got to take advantage of it.”