Jimmy Garoppolo returned to the starting quarterback position with the San Francisco 49ers this week on Sunday Night Football. The return wasn't as fruitful as either party had hoped, with the 49ers losing 11-10 and Garoppolo playing poorly. Former NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald believes he has some insight into why that may have happened.
One key difference between this year's Garoppolo and the one from last season is that this year's player was benched for Trey Lance. He's the team's backup and has just been forced into action thanks to Lance's injury.
Fitzgerald said on the Let's Go! podcast that a secondary role may be what's driving Jimmy Garoppolo's poor play:
"In San Francisco, the talent on defense is really good. They have a quarterback that's played at a very high level for a long time. They have the skill set, they have the players, they just have to put it together. And it has a lot to do with the confidence that you have and Jimmy's just not playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Being initially benched would not have been fun for the two-time Super Bowl champion and it might be affecting him mentally now:
"And you can see it in his body language, was talking to himself. You know, even the throw in the fourth quarter where he got picked, he was turning into tight coverage. And you know, he's not stepping into the throws; he just doesn't look comfortable."
It became clear over the offseason that the 49ers did not want him anymore and they preferred Lance. That may have seriously derailed their chances now that Lance is on injured reserve.
Why did the San Francisco 49ers bench Jimmy Garoppolo in the first place?
Jimmy Garoppolo took the 49ers to the Super Bowl and then the NFC Championship Game. So it's fair to ask why they moved on.
Last season, before the 49ers went to the NFC Championship Game, they traded up to draft Trey Lance, which answers the question.
Clearly, their front office and scouting department loved Lance so much that they didn't care that they already had a passable (at the very least) quarterback on the roster.
With the exception of any team Tom Brady is on, most Super Bowl-winning teams have quarterbacks on rookie deals, which is probably what the 49ers wanted to do. Lance costs a lot less than Garoppolo, and the team around him is quite good. Plugging in a cheaper quarterback there, and one they like a lot, can make them an even more dangerous team. That was the theory anyway.
With Jimmy Garoppolo back running the offense, it seems there's work to be done for both the franchise and quarterback.