The San Francisco 49ers looked like a completely different team compared to the squad fans watched through the first 11 weeks of the season. San Francisco won just a single game over that span. Since then, with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback, the 49ers won five-straight games and finished with a 6-10 record.

As our own Zain Naqvi noted, the 49ers became the first team in NFL history to end the season with more than three wins after starting 0-9.

Garoppolo has been impressive in his starts this season. His 1,542 passing yards through his first five starts with the 49ers are the most by a quarterback in franchise history in their first five starts with the team. The same total ranks fourth among all NFL quarterbacks in their first five starts. Only Drew Bledsoe (Bills), Trent Green (Rams), and Cam Newton (Panthers) had more.

Before Garoppolo's arrival in San Francisco, many speculated the quarterback position would be a top target for the team. So much talk surrounded the possibility of a Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shanahan reunion with the 49ers. All of that discussion ended on October 30 when the 49ers sent a second-round draft pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for Garoppolo.

The quarterback position is now solidified for San Francisco. While Garoppolo is scheduled to become a free agent in March, it is unlikely the 49ers let him escape following his superb five-game audition. Even if a long-term deal cannot be immediately agreed upon, the franchise tag is an option. However, many, including ESPN's Adam Schefter, believe a long-term agreement will be reached.

Garoppolo's presence on the 49ers roster changes the team's offseason plan. With quarterback no longer an area of need, San Francisco can focus on building around Garoppolo, adding protection, offensive targets, and shoring up the defense.

"It's nice because we know we don't have to go into free agency or the draft trying to answer that question right away," Shanahan said following Sunday's 34-13 victory over the Rams. "That's a big spot, and that's where it starts, and now we'll just keep trying to look at what's out there based on free agency. Then we'll move to the draft.

"People get let go regardless of the position but wherever we can improve our team, we will. And you see what's available and whatever's there, I don't like going into a season saying we have to get this position or we have to that. You see what's available and you try to make the best decisions with what there is."

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Following the team's final game of the season, Garoppolo sounded like a man who plans to be around next year as he discussed the team's disappointment that the season has ended.

"We could keep going," Garoppolo said. "Just talking to the guys in the locker room, it's unfortunate that our season comes to an end like this but hopefully for next year, we just keep this good thing going."

Garoppolo sat behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady for nearly four seasons in New England. The trade to San Francisco gave Garoppolo an opportunity to start and be the leader of an NFL team.

"I think it was a good match between the 49ers and myself, and myself and the 49ers," Garoppolo said. "I think it was kind of the perfect match. It just happened at the right time, and good things are coming from it."

A number of 49ers players are scheduled to become free agents in March. They include names like Carlos Hyde and Eric Reid. That's life in the NFL for Garoppolo but he also knows ending the season on a high note can carry into next year.

"Every year's a new year," Garoppolo said. "You get new players. You lose players. Every team's a different team than they were the year before. I've learned that just from being in the league for four years. Next year's team will have a different identity than this one did but ending the season how we did definitely helped us."

Shanahan discussed Reid, who was the NFL's highest-graded safety during Week 17, according to Pro Football Focus.

"I think E. Reid's been great," Shanahan said. "He started out with real high expectations this year going into a contract year, playing in a new scheme that he had a hell of a camp doing, got hurt early in the year, which was frustrating for him. It took him some time to get back. When he did, we had some injuries and some other people playing, so we tried him at linebacker for a few weeks.

"We put a huge challenge on him to do that but he stepped up for it, and when we lost [Jaquiski] Tartt and stuff, we had to shuffle him back to safety, and he's gotten better each week. He knows the new scheme for him. He's been moving around all year. This last month or so, I feel like he's been playing his best football."

Many feel it is unlikely that Hyde or Reid return to the 49ers in 2018. Both might command high salaries from teams needy at running back or safety and the 49ers feel they have good competition behind each player.