Ever since the 49ers selected Trey Lance third overall in last year’s draft, there’s been an expiration date on Jimmy Garoppolo‘s time as the team’s starting quarterback.
No exact date was set, but it got pushed to at least next season when the 49ers were able to turn things around from a 3-5 start to finish 10-7. That got them in the playoffs and a pair of road wins have them in this week’s conference title game.
After beating the Rams — who are this week’s opponent as well — in Week 18, Garoppolo told Albert Breer of SI.com about a pregame exchange with fullback Kyle Juszczyk that included Juszczyk telling him that it was their last regular season game together. Garoppolo said he realized “this could be it” and has embraced that possibility in a way that head coach Kyle Shanahan believes has helped the team’s overall approach to their postseason run.
“A ton,” Shanahan said on Monday, via 49ersWebzone.com. “That is the reality we’re at. It’s been that way for a while, since we made that trade, and the more that we all can accept it and know it and not beat around the bush, the easier it is to go on with your jobs. And that’s what we’ve all done, and we’ve all enjoyed each other as people. We all respect the hell of each other in our profession. And I think it’s just allowed everyone to move on and be themselves. And I think throughout the year, that’s allowed him to get better, it’s allowed our team to get better, it’s allowed me to get better and focus on what we should focus on, and just trying to be as good at our jobs as we can.”
This run will end one way or another and the 49ers will move on to figuring out how to make the transition to Lance, but, for now, thoughts are only on extending the current run as long as possible.