Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

‘I just don’t want this to end anytime soon’: Jimmy Garoppolo’s final chapter with 49ers isn’t over yet

Jan 10, 2022 at 7:50 AM--

Earlier this season, Jimmy Garoppolo didn't want to close the door on a possible return to the San Francisco 49ers in 2022. Most believe the team will unload the veteran quarterback and his hefty salary and transition to the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft, Trey Lance.

"Honestly, with the possibilities, I try not to close any doors too early," Garoppolo said in November. "It's one of those situations, you've just got to let it play out, I think. We've got a lot going on with the season and everything right now. If you start thinking about those other things, you just get distracted, I think. But when we cross that bridge, we'll assess everything then."

Garoppolo could see that bridge on Sunday as he prepared for what was likely his final regular-season game with his 49ers teammates. That's when fullback Kyle Juszczyk approached him.

"And we hugged," Garoppolo told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, "and he was like, 'Man, I don't want to get emotional or anything, but this is our last regular-season game together.' It was a pretty cool moment, and from that point on, I really was like, 'This could be it.'"

It could have been his final game in red and gold, but the last chapter in that story extends following a thrilling 27-24 overtime win against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. As a result, the 49ers clinched a playoff berth and will face the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild-Card round on Sunday.

What makes the regular-season finale win even more impressive is Garoppolo toughing it out to be a big part of the storyline. The quarterback wasn't anything close to perfect, but in the end, he helped his Niners get past the Rams and punch their playoff ticket. And he did so with a torn ligament and chipped bone in his right thumb, admitting after the game that throwing still hurt—a lot.

"It was definitely tested," Garoppolo told FOX Sports' Tom Rinaldi. "It's football. I don't know what to say. It [expletive] hurt. Sorry, but it is what it is. We got the win, and that's all that matters."

Garoppolo finished the game 23-of-32 for 316 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Again, it was not perfect, but given what he was going through, it was a gutsy outing by the quarterback.

"It's those big moments that you live for as a quarterback," Garoppolo told Breer. "You want to be the guy with the ball at the end. When you get that opportunity, just, I don't know. You bring up the emotional stuff, man. It's tough. It really is.

"I love these guys. I love these players. We've been through a lot together, and there's just some guys in that huddle that you look into their eyes and it means a lot to them, it means a lot to me, and just the whole team together, it's a great group and I just don't want this to end anytime soon."

Maybe there are a few more moments in the coming week. In a wide-open NFC playoff bracket, anything is possible.

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