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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Long opening drive changed 49ers’ plans to put Jimmy Garoppolo back in game against Chargers

Aug 22, 2021 at 9:10 PM--

Jimmy Garoppolo was originally supposed to play more than one series against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night, but the long opening drive he was a part of to start the game changed all that.

Garoppolo and the 49ers had their first possession of their 15-10 win over the Chargers start with 11:52 remaining in the first quarter, but it didn't end until more than seven minutes of game clock later. The possession was a slow, grind-it-out drive that lasted 15 plays and 50 yards before ending on an interception with 4:24 remaining in the first quarter.

That drive wound up being the only appearance of the game for Garoppolo before the 49ers turned the offense over to Trey Lance early in the second quarter. Lance remained in the game until the third quarter, throwing two touchdown passes along the way, but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan originally intended to put Garoppolo back in the game as part of a plan to get his second-team players some time with the first-team players.

"We really don't have ones or twos our there for the most part. We're sitting a lot of ones," Shanahan said after the game. "There were some ones out there. And I was really hoping to mix a lot of guys up -- receivers, O-Line and our quarterback. So I was going to go Jimmy for the first series, I was going to put Trey in for two, then get Jimmy back."

Garoppolo wasn't the only first-team player Shanahan wanted to mix and match with the second team. He also wanted to do the same with guard Laken Tomlinson, tackle Mike McGlinchey, and his wide receivers.

"We were going to change up the same with Laken and McGlinchey and some of the wideouts, but I wasn't expecting a (15-play) drive on the first one either," Shanahan said.

Shanahan decided that the opening drive was enough work for Garoppolo and decided to keep him on the sidelines the rest of the way. Scrapping the plan to mix the first team and second team players the way he wanted was a better idea in his mind than giving his first team more reps in a preseason game than he wanted them to have.

"That's kind of the problem," Shanahan said. "I'd like to get some of our twos some experience with ones, but if you let the ones go all the way for their 16 to 20 plays and then your two quarterback comes in, I don't want to have to leave them out there for 40 plays just so they can get some work with both. We were going to do it that way, but when you get a (15-play) drive, our goal's only three to four more plays so we just shut it down."

Garoppolo will likely get more reps in the preseason finale against the Raiders next week, which Shanahan has referred to as the "dress rehearsal" game for the regular season.

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