49ers cash in on the best insurance policy they’ve ever bought – it’s Jimmy G to the rescue

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SANTA CLARA — Jimmy Garoppolo walked out of the interview room on Sunday to an enthusiastic crowd of fans chanting his name. He signed autographs, flashed his trademark smile, then headed to the locker room.

It’s a scene that’s played out often since Garoppolo arrived in 2017 as he wins a lot of games. But this time it was different. Garoppolo ended that win on the bench after agreeing to take a restructured deal to support Trey Lance.

The season didn’t even have five quarterbacks when the 49ers cashed in on an insurance policy that could save their season.

It’s hard to know who looks smarter at this point, the franchise or Garoppolo, the quarterback who was sidelined for Lance but swallowed his pride and returned to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday as a conquering hero. in a 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

With 2:33 left in the first quarter, Lance cut the field on a play option, was hit by Seattle linebacker Cody Barton, and his right ankle was bent in a way that was not intended to human anatomy.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, September 18, 2022. (Nhat V Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

It was Lance’s third run of the game and his second on a powerful inside run. Such plays are part of Lance’s experience, at least until he can function in the pocket as a setback setter.

The medics got out, placing an inflatable cast on Lance’s ankle. Off went Lance in a cart, done for the year with a fractured ankle that will require surgery.

“I’m comfortable with the players, the scheme, all that,” Garoppolo said. ” I know about it. I’m not saying I knew it was going to happen, but I was prepared in case it did. I just wanted to take the opportunity.

Garoppolo conceded he didn’t think he would return to the 49ers. The 49ers didn’t think they had a chance to get him back with Lance cut as a starter. It wasn’t until both sides came to the same conclusion that another year would be beneficial that a deal was reached on August 29.

Shanahan didn’t think back to that day Garoppolo came into the game, only that he had a quarterback he trusted to take over when Lance’s season suddenly ended.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is greeted by teammates after a 1-yard touchdown run to finish the scoring.

“I think we’ve lost our starting quarterback four times in six years, so we’ve been in that situation before,” Shanahan said. “I think we’re a bit better prepared with our backup right now.”

Since Sunday, Garoppolo was no longer the replacement for a 22-year-old phenomenon. He’s the guy who’s 36-16 as a starter with the 49ers, including the playoffs.

It was as if he had never left. Garoppolo started hot, completing his first four passes for 70 yards, including a 38-yard pass to tight end Ross Dwelley. They were leading 20-0 at halftime. He was just 9 of 17 for 84 yards after the opening streak and made a few off-target throws. It’s never perfect with Garoppolo, who only has one stat that really matters.

“I’m not a big ‘me’,” Garoppolo said. “It’s about winning football matches. I am a big believer in this. People can say what they want, talk about statistics, whatever. But when you win games, that’s what we’re here to do. And that’s all I’m trying to do.

The 49ers can forget about the Lance package with its infield striking and big-play potential. With 45 rushes and 24 passing games, they’re back to the formula that earned them a wildcard berth and two playoff wins. last season before falling in the NFC title game.

Jeff Wilson Jr., replacing Elijah Mitchell, had 84 yards on 18 carries. Samuel had 53 on four attempts, including a 51-yard burst. Rookie Ty Davis-Price had 33 yards on 14 carries. In all, the 49ers rushed for 189 yards and held the ball for 38:20 to Seattle’s 21:40.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers throws against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, September 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer /Bay Area NewsGroup)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers throws against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Sunday, September 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer /Bay Area NewsGroup)

Garoppolo’s job is to keep the cruise ship from hitting an iceberg, while remaining stable. Nothing sudden or explosive unless the ball ends up in the hands of Deebo Samuel. He went 13 of 21 for 151 yards and no turnovers and even finished the scoring with a 1-yard sneak — a bit of a gamble for a team that just lost a quarterback.

“It wasn’t my decision, man,” Garoppolo quipped. “I just run the games. I mean, it worked. Sometimes you just have to do what it takes to win.

The locker room was a dark place for a winning team. His teammates really love Lance and felt bad for him, including Garoppolo. But the 49ers know full well that Shanahan can call an offense and set up a game in which Garoppolo can pick up a win.

As much as they love Brock Purdy, the seventh-round pick who will now be the backup, Garoppolo offers a level of comfort that comes with experience.

“It definitely turns out to be a smart move for us, having a quarterback who has done so much for this organization and has all the experience he has,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “The fact that we get him back is very important for our team. I’m excited for him, but obviously we’re hurting for Trey.

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey was grateful to still have Garoppolo around.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers delivers the ball to Jeff Wilson Jr. (22) of the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. California.  , Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo (10) of the San Francisco 49ers delivers the ball to Jeff Wilson Jr. (22) of the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. California. , Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

“He did a great job today and proved who he is and why he’s helped us win games over the last five years,” McGlinchey said. “Thank God he’s here, otherwise we’d be in a tough spot.”

To be fair, there’s no question that Seattle is the Russell Wilson-led unit that has beaten the 49ers 17 times in the last 21 games. Still, as bad as the Seahawks are, they’re probably tied with the Chicago Bears team that beat the 49ers 19-10 in Week 1.

Under the terms of his contract incentives, Garoppolo, if he were to play the rest of the season, would earn nearly $16 million and was told he pocketed $350,000 on Sunday.

“Now that you’ve said it, it feels good,” Garoppolo said. “I don’t know, you don’t think about that stuff over there. You’re in the game, you’re in the flow, trying to get the guys ready.

Garoppolo and the 49ers season were wiped out in 2018 when he suffered a torn ACL in Kansas City. He knows how Lance feels.

“I’ve been in Trey’s shoes,” Garoppolo said. “It sucks to go through this. But he’ll recover better. If you do that, it will set you up for success in the future. That’s what I’m doing.”

Because Garoppolo approached a difficult situation the way he did, and because the 49ers remained patient, a championship dream that could have been decimated remains alive.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo (10) (10) high-fives fans as he leaves the field after the 49ers' 27-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo (10) (10) high-fives fans as he leaves the field after the 49ers’ 27-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
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