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Trey Lance's season-ending injury gives Jimmy Garoppolo a chance to prove 49ers wrong for unplugging too early

Sometimes what sounds callous is enough to convey reality.

So let’s just preface this with the honesty of “too early”. His immense tools are undiminished and could grow into an NFL centerpiece his starter. And even his worst critics, if they have any humanity, shouldn’t rejoice over Lance’s season-ending broken ankle on Sunday.

But let’s be honest about the relatively short timeframe of the 2022 season, the reality is that Jimmy Garoppolo got a rare opportunity to prove San Francisco’s Brain Trust wrong in seeking his replacement. And the team’s Super Bowl pass could have been a little more consistent, too.

It sounds grim after Lance has lost the rest of the season, especially after he hasn’t had enough time to show what progress he’s been able to make this year. There are three facts to consider now that Lance has been sidelined this season.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, 5, was taken off the field in the first half after breaking his ankle. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

First, Lance failed to win his first 49ers job as a rookie in 2021, despite head coach Kyle Shanahan badly I want him to take it and run away. Second, he had uneven offseason and preseason development, showing enough inconsistency to leave the door open for Garoppolo to remain with the team. A veteran roster, when healthy, is enough to get them out of the relatively weak NFC, especially if they can consistently get above-average quarterback plays.

These three things provide context for what the post-Lance roster will look like for the remainder of 2022. to the starting point.

Maybe towards the end of this season we may find that a post-surgery healthy Garoppolo is a better player than the limited version we’ve seen in 2021. noticed that the man who was about to replace was also not finished yet. And most of all, Garoppolo may find that his team’s attempts to dump him during the offseason could have put a burr on his saddle.

At the very least, the possibility of Garoppolo sticking to Shanahan here cannot be denied. Not necessarily in a “screw you” way. It’s in line with the professional attempts to torture Shanahan and general manager John Lynch under Rethink. Or remorse for betting such a huge amount of capital on Lance when he had so much development left in front of him, especially given the state of the roster and its positioning in the Super Bowl window. You may feel

Opportunities of this sort have taken veteran quarterbacks, especially teams, to the Super Bowl and barely missed a second trip before losing their first job in the offseason. That’s not to say I didn’t choose wisely. Given the benefits of building a team and leaning into the future quarterback seat, giving Lance his shot was the right long-term move.

But you’re lying to yourself if you don’t admit that the right long-term move also comes with short-term sacrifices. It was an unknown growing player who hadn’t had a chance to start. You only had to watch him in the offseason or preseason to understand it. Or maybe it was sheer meritocracy that kept him from winning his first job.

Given how far Lance has had to go, and all other things being equal in terms of salary and capital invested, Garoppolo is given the chance to fight for his job this preseason. And given the contradictions in Lance’s practice, Garoppolo may have won the task.

But that’s not how the NFL always works. Looking near the top of the quarterback record book, Philip Rivers would retire with filthy success if the team that drafted him hadn’t replaced him. Drew Brees played his entire career with the Chargers. It was an easy transition from the freshly played 26-year-old.

Garoppolo’s situation is different, but the reality of NFL brutality is not. The 49ers tried to ditch him, but the effort fell through. Now he has a chance to show the organization that he might have been a better choice in his 2022.

In the wake of Lance’s injury, it might feel premature and too brutal to say that. But that’s definitely the NFL way. everytime works. The 49ers have another game on Sunday and a difficult schedule ahead. They also have a chance at the wide-open NFC to finish off their Super Bowl trek, which came a step short last season.

They may be surprised at what Garoppolo gives them in a second chance. And they may also regret not giving him the right to win it last offseason.