Jimmy Garoppolo went through his first full practice since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament early last season. The 49ers quarterback wore a knee brace on his surgically repaired knee, evidence of where and how the team’s season came apart last season.
Garoppolo has a big contract, inviting big questions.
Can he stay healthy? Is he a franchise quarterback? Was he worth the money?
He has made only 10 starts and thrown just 361 passes in five seasons. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, who entered the NFL in 2017, has 10 career starts and 383 attempts.
Garoppolo, 27, spent 3 1/2 seasons behind Tom Brady before the Patriots dealt him to the 49ers at the trade deadline in 2017. So he has limited game experience.
“Jimmy hasn’t played a lot of football,” coach Kyle Shanahan said, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I think everyone knows he’s a good player and knows he’s talented, but we’ve got to go through some situations and go through playing the position.”
The 49ers signed Garoppolo to a $137.5 million contract before last season, after only five starts for them. He faces a critical year, needing to stay healthy and show he is indeed the franchise quarterback the 49ers believe he is.
“He’s a guy who clearly we believe in to a point where we rewarded him the way we did,” 49ers General Manager John Lynch told Branch. “But the other thing is, as we’ve been very open about, he needs to play. He knows that. We all know that because the only way you improve in this league is by doing it.”
Garoppolo sprained a shoulder in New England in 2016 and then tore his ACL last season. Lynch said the 49ers don’t think Garoppolo’s durability is a concern, but Lynch also couched it.
“Time will tell,” Lynch said. “Nobody knows. . . .We’re sure hopeful that he is [durable]. We know he does everything that he can within his control. That’s all we can ask for. We’ll see.”