By Trading for Jimmy Garoppolo the 49ers Finally Have Hope
Less than two weeks ago when covering the Cowboys’ 40-10 blowout of the 49ers at a half-empty Levi’s Stadium, I was faced with a choice. The game had concluded and without a concrete story in mind I stood in the tunnel. Turn left for the visitor locker room or right for the home locker room? Briefly thinking the doldrums of 0-7 may provide some brushstrokes of emotion, I veered right for about five seconds before reconsidering and making a beeline to the Cowboys locker room and all the Ezekiel Elliott revelry. (After all, he had bulldozed his way to 147 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.)
What was there to say about the 49ers? They were pulseless that Sunday. The following week was the same story as they were destroyed at the hands of the thriving Eagles to drop to 0-8. The 2017 season was over. There was an abyss of nothingness.
There were no star players to entertain. Even the intriguing college quarterbacks had regressed in recent weeks so the Suck for [fill-in-the-blank] hashtags weren’t doing the trick. There wasn’t even an ounce of drama or the unraveling that comes with heavily losing teams. A coaching change rightfully wasn’t on the horizon. The coaching had been more than solid; the roster talent was simply lacking, well, talent. At 0-8 the 49ers had nowhere to go and nothing of note to care about. The organization and its fanbase reached the ultimate low in both sports and life: the absence of hope.
Trading for Jimmy Garoppolo changed everything.
Garoppolo may be the next Joe Montana or he may the next Matt Cassel. At this moment it hardly matters. Garoppolo’s sample size is small (he has less career attempts than C.J. Beathard) but what he has shown filling in for Tom Brady is quite promising. The 49ers love his skill set, his smarts and, of course, his New England pedigree. He brings an incredible level of intrigue that was missing with a journeyman like Brian Hoyer under center. In Garoppolo, the possibility exists of an ignited 49ers offense despite their numerous roster holes. And next year when he has some fortification, the sky’s the limit.
Garoppolo’s lack of playing time means the film dissection is smaller while the hope thickens. He probably brings more upside than Kirk Cousins who has been erratic than ever this season, or any of the college guys. But any of them would have provided an emotional spark.
The lightening bolt Garoppolo offers cannot be overstated. It clearly stems from his position, the most important in the NFL, let alone in any team sport. Finally the “brick by brick” mantra being spewed from Santa Clara is easy to embrace because Garoppolo is the ultimate brick. There is no price too high for a franchise quarterback, and the idea that the 49ers only gave up one of two second-round picks is remarkable. If things go awry they can cut their loses and draft a QB. But no one is thinking that way because hope doesn’t come with contingency plans. In sports fandom, hope can be translated to a simple feeling that the team you devote copious amounts of hours reading about, thinking about and watching is not an utter waste of time. Before the Garoppolo signing, the 49ers had regressed into an utter waste of time.
Psychologically it’s the notion of possibility that drives us as sports fans. This can be as basic as signing a quarterback who may win you some games or as intricate as the March Madness underdog getting the ball at half court down 2 with 1.6 seconds left. There is little point to sports fandom without hope. Finally the 49ers have some. Time to start collecting more Super Bowls, Jimmy G!