National Football League

Fall From Grace

November 3, 2020

Sometimes, the glass is actually half-empty.

Fresh off of their first Super Bowl berth since the 2012 season, the San Francisco 49ers are spiraling downward, as their injury report only elongates. 

On Sunday, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) and superstar tight end George Kittle (foot) joined superstar defensive end Nick Bosa, starting running back Raheem Mostert, and a host of others on the San Francisco injury docket. 

Coupled with the injuries to Garoppolo and Kittle, the Niners lost 37-27 to in-division rival Seattle, bringing them to 4-4 on the season and 1-2 in the NFC West, good for last place behind the Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams through eight weeks.

And on top of all that, San Francisco's schedule over the next five weeks is brutal. The Niners will host Green Bay (5-2) on a short week this Thursday, before traveling to take on New Orleans (5-2) in Week 10, followed by a bye in Week 11, a road matchup with the Rams (5-3) in Week 11 and a home game against Buffalo (6-2) in Week 12.

So, where does San Francisco go from here?

Colin Cowherd wasn't exactly sure of all the steps the Niners need to take, but on Tuesday morning, he thinks he nailed the first one. 

"Just because your career can end in one city doesn't mean your career is over ... People reinvent themselves and pivot all the time. Jimmy Garoppolo is hurt again. He's going to miss multiple weeks and I'm just gonna say it now: it's over for Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco."

The Niners acquired Garoppolo back in October of 2017, via a trade with the New England Patriots, giving up a second round pick for their new starting quarterback. 

His presence was immediately felt, as Garoppolo won his first five starts in San Francisco, and the franchise rewarded him with a five-year, $137.5 million contract in February of 2018. 

However, things began to come undone shortly after, when Jimmy G tore his ACL against the Kansas City Chiefs during Week 3 of the 2018 season, sidelining him until Week 1 of the 2019 season.

That 2019 year served as a bounce-back year for Garoppolo and the Niners. They won their first eight games and finished the regular season 13-3. Garoppolo completed 69 percent of his passes and threw for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The Niners would then beat Minnesota and Green Bay in the playoffs, earning a spot in Super Bowl LIV against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. 

And even though San Francisco came up short in the championship game, the future seemed bright for the historically successful Bay Area franchise. 

But that light has been dimmed so far this season. 

Garoppolo and the Niners dropped their season-opener at home to Arizona, and in Week 2, Jimmy G suffered an ankle sprain that sideline him for two weeks. 

His return in Week 5 ended with a 43-17 home shellacking at the hands of Miami, and while the 49ers would earn wins over the Rams and New England Patriots over the course of the next two weeks, Garoppolo suffered a second ankle injury in Sunday's loss to Seattle, and it will potentially sideline him for the rest of the season. 

FOX Sports Dr. Matt Provencher expanded on Garoppolo and Kittle's injuries.

On the year, Garoppolo is completing 67.1 percent of his passes (13th in the NFL) for 182.7 yards per game (31st in the NFL). He's thrown seven touchdown passes and five interceptions in six starts so far this season.

Said Cowherd:

"There are three things, as a quarterback, that will end your career with one team: you're inconsistent – Garoppolo is – the coach has lost faith in you – the coach has – and you can't stay healthy."

Whether Niners coach Kyle Shanahan has lost faith in Garoppolo is yet to be determined. 

But if that is indeed the case, as Cowherd surmises, the San Francisco franchise might have to make a decision on Garoppolo's future – and its own – sooner rather than later.

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