Back in the day, rapper LL Cool J was the first to utter the now famous line: “Don’t call it a comeback.”
On Wednesday, September 8, veteran Jimmy Garoppolo officially won the starting quarterback job for the San Francisco 49ers in the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions. But don’t call it a QB competition. Garoppolo doesn’t.
At a press conference following practice, a reporter asked the newly-named starter if the last several weeks of media and fan speculation made daily workouts and preseason games feel like a competition with highly-touted rookie signal caller Trey Lance for a job that has been Garoppolo’s for several years now.
There was no hesitation in his answer.
“Not to me, no. I went into it consistently every day with the same attitude,” Garoppolo said. “I mean, it’s always a competition, but you’re competing against the defense in training camp. Now, you’re competing this weekend against Detroit. That’s kind of always where I’ve been with my head, and it has helped me stay steady throughout this whole thing.”
“I told you guys a long time ago I had a pretty good feeling about it,” he continued. “I always kind of knew where I stood and everything. Now it’s official, I guess.”
Lance Expected to Play Meaningful Snaps Starting Week 1
While Garoppolo is to start for the Niners, at least for now, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has been clear that Lance will receive meaningful snaps from the jump.
“Situationally, he’s going to get plays,” Shanahan said back in August. “That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be the starter or anything, but he’s going to get plays and you’ve got to prepare him for that every way possible.”
The Niners mortgaged their future for Lance, trading away multiple first-round picks across three years in the NFL draft. So if Lance is ready, even though it is his rookie season, it makes sense for the team to play him.
How frequently Lance will take the field remains an open question, though one that shouldn’t take long to produce an answer. When the rookie does step under center, it’s likely the offensive packages will be foreign to opponents’ eyes. Shanahan utilized Lance primarily as a pocket passer during the preseason, presumably opting not to display the young quarterback’s running prowess to preserve both his safety and the element of surprise such a talented athlete can pose to un-initiated defenses — particularly as a part of Shanahan’s advanced offensive schemes.
Garoppolo Will Have Strong Weapons to Work With in San Francisco
Assuming relative health and success, Garoppolo should keep his job for several weeks, at least.
The return of weapons like tight end George Kittle and running back Raheem Mostert, both of whom were hurt for significant portions of last season, ought to help in that regard.
San Francisco’s offensive line, led by All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, is also likely to prove an advantage against most opponents.
“I love this supporting cast, honestly. Up front, those guys are playing well together, keeping things clean in the pocket. And then outside, we have a lot of speed and a lot of weapons,” Garoppolo told reporters Wednesday. “I’d say the confidence has gone up with the learning of the offense, having adapted to everything and being able to process things faster.”