What Jimmy Garoppolo's 2018 injury can teach 49ers as Trey Lance recovers

·3 min read

What we can learn from Jimmy G's 2018 injury as Lance recovers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Four years ago, an early season injury to the 49ers’ starting quarterback was seen as one that would have long-term implications.

Jimmy Garoppolo had just entered his first season as a full-time starter in the NFL after sitting behind Tom Brady through most of his four professional seasons.

After five consecutive victories the 49ers reeled off to end 2017, the team was a trendy playoff pick for 2018.

But when Garoppolo sustained a torn ACL on a non-contact play while running the ball in a Week 3 game at Kansas City, it figured to have negative implications beyond that current season.

After all, Garoppolo would be robbed of a season’s worth of experience. All the mistakes from which he would learn in 2018, now would be delayed a year.

Trey Lance underwent season-ending surgery on his right ankle on Monday, and the same thought applies.

Lance needed to play a lot of football this season after seeing significant action in just one of his three years at North Dakota State.

He needed to learn from his mistakes, gain confidence from his successes, and experience a lot of different situations that would make him better in the future.

Right?

It did not necessarily work out that way for Garoppolo.

Garoppolo returned to action for the 2019 season and responded with his best season. He started every game for the only time in his nine-year career and the 49ers went 13-3 and advanced to the Super Bowl.

The point: It is way too early to pretend we have Lance’s career trajectory figured out.

When Garoppolo lost the most-important season of his career due to injury, he was 26 years old and beginning his fifth season in the NFL. Lance is 22, and he will be back in 2023 for his third year in the league.

Of course, there is no silver lining. This was a devastating turn of events for Lance and the 49ers.

Garoppolo takes back his old job, which means the 49ers will be more than OK at quarterback. And as long as he stays on the field, Garoppolo will give the 49ers a chance to win a lot of games this season.

What happens next year will be addressed after this season plays out.

RELATED: Twitter resurrects ironic 2021 Shanahan quote after Lance injury

Why even try to guess when neither the 49ers nor Garoppolo knew what would happen this season until the day before roster cut-down day?

Garoppolo is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. And the 49ers will have Lance for at least two more years.

Lance is young and strong. He also seems to have a good mindset.

Although it might not seem like it today, what he endured at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday was a temporary setback -- similar to what Garoppolo experienced in 2018.

Lance will be afforded every opportunity to reclaim his starting job and carve out a long, successful career.

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