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John Lynch shares behind-the-scenes details of 49ers’ decision to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo

Jan 14, 2022 at 8:47 AM


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Few expected San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to start the regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams this past weekend. Reports gave the impression that he wouldn't be able to properly grip the football, much less throw it downfield to his receivers.

Ian Rapoport reported that Garoppolo is expected to have offseason surgery. Head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged that as a possibility. The quarterback has a torn ligament and chipped bone in his right thumb. Still, Garoppolo delivered a gutsy performance, fought through the pain, and led his 49ers to a thrilling 27-24 overtime win at SoFi Stadium.

It wasn't until the Tuesday before the game that Garoppolo and the 49ers actually thought the injured quarterback might be able to tough it out. That morning, Shanahan asked Garoppolo to test his thumb by throwing the football under the supervision of the team's trainers and quarterback coach Rich Scangarello.

Team doctors and an outside specialist felt Garoppolo could play. It was just a matter of pain tolerance by that point and how the quarterback could function. Outside of that, he was cleared to play.

A week earlier, it was too painful for Garoppolo to throw. Shanahan didn't plan to watch the Tuesday throwing session but couldn't resist the urge to see how his quarterback was progressing.

"Long story short, Kyle told Jimmy, 'Hey, I want you to go out there. I want you to test it. If you're ready, you come back and tell me,'" general manager John Lynch shared Friday morning on 95.7 The Game.

Garoppolo said he was ready, so he played in the Week 18 contest, leading the 49ers to the vital victory.

"We trusted Jimmy, but then you want to see it in practice, and it looked real good in practice," Lynch continued. "And then I really commend Kyle, I commend our guys for the fortitude to kind of stay who we are in that game. I think it was so essential that we scored those three points before the half, knowing that we had deferred to start the game, so you get the ball coming out of the half. I really believe that allowed us to stay with who we were, and our game plan. I thought it was a masterful job by our coaching staff and our players, just to have the strength and the belief to overcome down there."

Right now, Garoppolo is the team's quarterback, and he's focused on Sunday's playoff opponent—the Dallas Cowboys.

"Jimmy's clutch too," Lynch added. "In the big moments, it's not always going to be perfect, and you're going to make mistakes, but I think [he has an] ability to bounce back. I don't think he ever gets the credit—Kyle's talked about it—but for how talented of a thrower that he is, the coolest thing is to see the belief that his teammates have in him, and he's earned that.

"We don't win that game [against the Rams] without him. We're all aware of that. ... We would have been comfortable going [with rookie Trey Lance], but we felt Jimmy had earned the opportunity, that that was our best chance, our best situation, and that's the one thing with Kyle—there's never any gray [area]. He makes a decision, and bam, we go. But I couldn't have been more happy for Jimmy and for all of his teammates.

"These guys are excited. They're well prepared. We've had a tremendous week of practice. We'll finish that throughout the weekend, but today, finish a Friday, which is always a fun day around here, kind of wrapping up the details. Then we'll get on a plane and go to Dallas, and the calm before the storm."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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