Jimmy G, his Knee, and Why Life is now Terrible
On Sunday the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs with a final score of 38-27. Pat Mahomes looked incredible, the Kansas City offense was as dynamic as advertised, and the 49ers defense wet the bed in the first half.
Coming into a season, in any sport, you understand that your team is going to have good moments and bad moments. Your team will have games that make you think winning a championship is a serious possibility, and there will be games that make you want to swear off fandom forever. You prepare for it all before the season, there is only one thing you never can be prepared for, no matter how hard you try.
What you can’t prepare for is having the centerpiece of the team suffer a season-ending injury. It doesn’t matter if it happens on the first play of the season, in the heat of a playoff chase, or in a meaningless game down the stretch. It all hurts just the same.
In the middle of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game Jimmy Garoppolo was running down the left sideline, trying to extend a drive and cut even more into the Chiefs’ lead which was down from 25 points to just eight points, when he tried to make a move to avoid a tackler. His move was unsuccessful, as he was absolutely leveled by Steven Nelson, but as he made the move, his left knee buckled. He immediately fell to the ground, grabbing his knee after taking the hit.
He then promptly left the game, was examined on the sideline for a while, and then was taken off the field on a cart with his leg stretched out and his helmet still on his head. At first glance, it looked like he may have gotten hurt on the massive hit from Nelson, but once the replay review slowed the play down it became clear that his knee buckled before the hit, and this was a non-contact injury.
In some cases, these non-contact injuries can be worse than a contact injury. In this case, it is as bad as it can possibly get. An MRI on Monday morning revealed that Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.
His season is now over, his future is now in question, and the playoff hopes for the 49ers now are even slimmer than before. This season was supposed to be one full of hope and growth, and while it still may be, it just got a whole lot less fun.
The 49ers have now been decimated by injuries so far this season, and the year is only three weeks old. Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL during the last play of the last practice of the preseason, Jimmy Garoppolo now tore his ACL, and Richard Sherman suffered a calf strain during the Chiefs game as well.
There really isn’t much analysis to get into when it comes to the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo and franchise quarterbacks, just know that it can (and often does) essentially end the season for the team. The only analysis you need in this case is that the San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are a much worse offensive team without Jimmy G, as is demonstrated in this infographic from ESPN Stats & Info on twitter:
So, what are the 49ers going to do now? They are most likely going to ride out the season with CJ Beathard, who wasn’t awful in his playing time last season, but he is not Jimmy G. I think it’s unlikely for them to make a trade for a new quarterback (such as Tyrod Taylor), because I think it’s more likely they work out free agent veteran free agent QBs. Those QBs would be players like Tom Savage or Landry Jones. They are unlikely to bring back Colin Kaepernick, simply because he doesn’t fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and they told him that before the season last year (and rumor has it that the Raiders and Patriots are interested in him).
The bottom line is this: the remaining 13 games of the 49ers season will not be nearly as fun without Garoppolo, they will not win most of those games. It’s just a sad situation, and since the injury happened I’ve been sitting around moping like this:
Is there a silver lining to the injury? I mean I guess the 49ers will have a better draft pick this year so they can address some issues with the defense and receiving corps. The 49ers could become this years’ tanking team, draft Nick Bosa (the number one prospect in CFB), and use the other picks to re-tool other positions and explode next year. Yeah, that’ll probably be what gets me through the year.
Another exciting prospect is the potential development of CJ Beathard. While he might not be nearly as good as Jimmy, the more actual game experience he gets (and he will get plenty) the better he will be if he is needed in the future. We should also get to see how the offense will look if they are forced to use Matt Breida as even more of a focal point than he was with Jimmy. If he can continue to run the ball effectively it should take pressure off Beathard and help the offense in their attempt to stay dynamic.
I can’t get that excited thinking about football the rest of this year though, I mean I literally named my fantasy football team “Garoppolypse Now.” The whole situation is just bad, and the media storm that follows it makes it even worse, seeing talking heads blame Jimmy G for getting hurt or calling him irresponsible, it just sucks.
I am really not looking forward to the prospects of naming random 49ers backup QBs the CK Collusion QB of the Week in my Tuesday Afternoon Football column, but it is what it is.
I guess what I am really trying to say is this: Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL and his season is over, the NFL will be significantly less fun without him, the 49ers playoff chances are basically dead, AND I AM UPSET AND EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE.
When your favorite team’s $137,500,000 franchise quarterback tears his ACL in the third game of his first full season with the team, it hurts. The good news is this: Tom Brady suffered this injury once (also against the Chiefs) and has made a full recovery to become a legend, Phillip Rivers tore his ACL and still has been a very good quarterback, and Carson Wentz tore his ACL last year and looks like himself again this year. I won’t totally panic about the future of Jimmy G, but I will bitch and moan about it until next season.
In the meantime…is it too late to climb aboard the Pat Mahomes/Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon for the remainder of this season?