At this time last year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was still learning to run. He said he hoped to be ready for the team's offseason program, but no one really knew for sure when the quarterback would start receiving the reps he needed.

Garoppolo was medically cleared to practice by training camp. Still, he was coming off a devastating ACL injury. How would he look come Week 1? A much-discussed five-interception practice in August, and a poor outing during his first preseason game cast doubts.

Garoppolo played a full NFL season for the first time in his career. He led the team to an NFC West championship, the best record in the conference, and eventually, the Super Bowl. Garoppolo and his teammates were just minutes away from winning the NFL title, but a fourth-quarter collapse ended those hopes.

Now, Garoppolo will have a whole offseason to think about that loss. The good news is that it will be a healthy offseason. He won't have to worry about learning to run again, gaining strength in his knee, that first big hit, or any of the concerns that existed a year go.

"Last year, I was here at this time, it was raining every day, trying to learn how to run, all that stuff," Garoppolo shared on Wednesday as 49ers players cleaned out their lockers. "So it will be a more productive offseason, I would imagine. Just getting into the (play)book, fine-tuning the little things. That's what will help us next year."

And now, at last, he has a lot more starting experience under his belt.

"I think it will help us going forward," Garoppolo continued. "It was a full year; everything we went through, all the big games at the end of the year, trying to get that one seed."

Garoppolo remembered one moment from this past season that appropriately depicts how close the team was and how prepared it typically was heading into a game. It's what made this 49ers team so unique.

"One memory that keeps coming back to me is that Redskins game, how before that game, it was pouring rain," Garoppolo said. "There might have been 100 people in the stands, and our team was just out there, ready to roll. The camaraderie that we had, it was a special group to be around."



Garoppolo stood there looking for his teammates as confetti dropped down around him. There was a celebration happening all around him. It was chaotic. The celebration, however, wasn't for him or his team.

The next morning, Garoppolo woke up and packed his things, getting ready to board a cross-country Bay Area-bound flight.

"It sucked," Garoppolo said. "I wouldn't want to put anyone in my head that Monday morning, just going through all that stuff."

Garoppolo hopes to turn that memory of confetti falling around him into fuel for next season.

"I keep telling myself, you've got to remember that feeling when all the confetti is coming down, just remember that moment, and you've just got to let it fuel you for this offseason," Garoppolo said. "Just come back stronger, more ready for next year."

Garoppolo understands there is criticism surrounding his part in the Super Bowl LIV loss. When the 49ers were holding onto a 10-point lead and needed a productive late-game drive to seal the win, the quarterback didn't come through. Garoppolo went 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 2.8 in the fourth quarter.

"You've got to own it," Garoppolo said of his late-game performance. "You've got to be a man, and attack it right down the middle, right in the face, and just look back at the season. There was a lot of good memories from this year. This team, the players, coaches, it was a great group to be around. I enjoyed every minute of it. Terrible ending, but you've just got to take the good with the bad."