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Jimmy Garoppolo won the day on Thursday. Seriously, the guy is 1-0 even though he’s no longer an NFL starting quarterback and the games haven’t started yet.
That’s because on the first day he was allowed to practice with the San Francisco 49ers and finally speak with reporters about his wild offseason, he was already on his game.
Garoppolo, by all accounts, threw the football with good enough velocity in parts of practice and then won the press conference afterward.
At his first press conference since seemingly bidding good-bye to San Francisco after a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL championship game last January, Garoppolo was all smiles.
Even the suggestion he might be nursing a bruised ego now that he’s riding the pine after helping the team play in the Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games the last two non-COVID seasons didn’t faze him.
“If that’s going to take a blow to your ego, you got to check your ego a little bit,” Garoppolo said. “You got to know who you are in this league. You have to know who you are as a person, and I think that’s going to carry you a long way.
“So that’s why I’m not too concerned about that.”
Offseason Got Sideways While Rehabbing
Garoppolo had an interesting offseason.
He knew the Niners were moving on to Trey Lance as their future and he expected to be traded. So, he didn’t show up to offseason workouts (which are voluntary anyway) and at one point reportedly wasn’t returning calls or texts from club brass.
Garoppolo apparently moved on mentally, too.
“It wasn’t on my mind to be completely honest with you,” Garoppolo said.
Surgery to his injured shoulder wasn’t on his mind, either. Then the rehabilitation process didn’t work.
“It just wasn’t happening, wasn’t working,” Garoppolo said.
So surgery became non-elective.
Garoppolo’s surgery came at exactly the wrong time for the 49ers because general manager John Lynch told reporters he was having “really serious talks” with two or three teams about trading the quarterback at the Indianapolis Combine.
The surgery all but ended those talks and ultimately led to Garoppolo not getting traded — but only because he wasn’t a problem or distraction in the locker room and didn’t force his way out.
“There was a thought of that at one point; trust me, there was,” Garoppolo said. “But that came and went. Things just kept falling into place. I’m one of those people I don’t want to ruffle the feathers too much here and there, and kind of just want to go with the flow. That’s the way training camp was going and I was happy with it.”
Garoppolo Thought About Playing Hardball
Garoppolo spent all of the preseason in a sort of football solitary confinement. (I tried to use an Alcatraz pun here but it didn’t work out and you get the point, anyway).
While the team practiced, Garoppolo would throw on a field away from the others so as to strengthen his arm and not expose himself to any chance of significant injury — which would have been a huge salary cap problem for the team.
He didn’t attend team meetings. He was on the team one day and about to be traded the next, according to rumors that never proved true.
“It was weird,” he said. “It was different than any situation I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in some weird ones, too, so that’s saying something.”
(Yeah, because he played for Bill Belichick).
“But I think things worked out for the best,” Garoppolo added. “There were a lot of ups and downs, rocky roads here and there, but through the whole thing, I’m happy where I’m at. I’m happy with the Niners, and I think the Niners are happy to have me back. Things are working out pretty well.”
Things worked because Garoppolo took an $18 million pay cut and was willing to be the backup unless he’s called up, which is entirely possible if not probable if Lance bombs.
But until then, both quarterbacks are going to root for and help each other.
“Me and Trey,” Garoppolo said, “honestly, I know a lot of (bleep) gets made up in the media, but we have a strong relationship.”
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