The San Francisco 49ers lost their starting quarterback to a torn ACL in the third game of 2018, and the potential of a promising season went down with Jimmy Garoppolo.
But Garoppolo said Wednesday that his recovery is going well, and he’s learned to appreciate the small steps along his road back.
‘It’s about small victories’
With San Francisco beginning its offseason program this week, Garoppolo said he’s gotten comfortable running and throwing the ball as he works to trust his left knee again.
“It’s very good to be throwing again. It’s what I do,” he said, via the Associated Press. “It’s encouraging. Every day gets easier and easier, I’m able to make this throw better than I was a week ago. It’s small victories like that. Throughout the whole process, it's all about small victories because you're not going to jump out and be able to throw it 60, 70 yards again. Small victories.”
Garoppolo said he’ll almost certainly be wearing a brace on the knee this season, and noted that the newest braces are so lightweight it’s “like you’re not wearing anything.”
First days were hardest
Garoppolo was in his first full season as the 49ers’ starter when he was injured; now 27, he’d been waiting years for the chance, having been Tom Brady’s backup on the New England Patriots beginning in 2014 and until he was traded to San Francisco in October 2017.
After making just five starts with the Niners over the final games of the 2017 regular season, the team and Garoppolo agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million contract. Both sides were riding high, and then came the injury against the Chiefs.
“I think initially probably was the hardest part, the acceptance of everything,” Garoppolo said. “The first couple weeks, really, you can't put any weight on it with the meniscus and all that stuff. Probably the first month or two was the worst. But, after that, you get running and everything and you start to feel like yourself again.”
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has joked that he has been “stalking” the quarterback, checking in frequently on his progress.
Rehabbing with Jerick McKinnon
Garoppolo has spent a lot of time with running back Jerick McKinnon. Signed away from the Vikings in free agency last year, McKinnon tore his ACL during practice just days before the regular-season opener.
They’ve endured rehab together, and Garoppolo noted that McKinnon’s disposition was helpful.
“Initially, you’re so down after the surgery and everything like that,” Garoppolo said. “‘Jet’ was about three weeks ahead of me, so always had some tips for me on, ‘I did this’ or ‘Try doing this’ type of thing.
“It’s encouraging being with someone, especially Jet. The guy is so positive every day. How could you not be in a good mood with him?”
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