SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Now that he’s back in the role of San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo has plenty to do this week. But before he could fully dive back in, he made sure to reach out to the man he’s replacing: injured quarterback Trey Lance.
Speaking to the media Thursday for the first time since stepping in for Lance in last week’s win against the Seattle Seahawks, Garoppolo said he spoke to Lance a couple of times this week and also interacted with him via Zoom when Lance called in to take part in meetings.
Garoppolo’s advice? Try to remain as positive as possible.
“I heard [defensive end Nick] Bosa’s presser the other day and he worded it pretty well because there is a moment where you feel like your life is over and you feel like you can never get back to where I was,” Garoppolo said. “But that passes and you’ve got to hit a point where it does pass and you mentally move on from that. There will be hurdles for him to overcome but I’ve been around Trey for a couple years now. He’s a tough dude, so he’ll be all right.”
On Monday morning, Lance had surgery at Stanford hospital to repair a fractured fibula and ligament damage in his right ankle. The 49ers have expressed optimism that Lance will be ready to go in time for the start of the 2023 NFL season.
“He’s doing as good as you can,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Trey’s been great. A number of guys, we’ve all talked to him a bunch, and he’s trying to come to the game this week. I don’t think he’ll be able to, until the swelling goes down, but he’ll be back and a part of us sooner than later.”
After returning to the field Sunday, Garoppolo said it was like “riding a bike” but he also hadn’t had much time to reflect on the long, strange journey that brought him back to the job he’s held for most of the past five years.
Asked Thursday if that trip has been surreal, Garoppolo said it has and it hasn’t.
“Just for how things worked out, it’s pretty crazy,” Garoppolo said. “But I don’t know, everything happens for a reason, I’m a big believer in that and it’s just another opportunity.”
For now, Garoppolo said he’s just “trying to stay in the moment” and get reacclimated to running San Francisco’s offense. Garoppolo said last week’s game felt similar to how he did in 2017 when he first got traded to the Niners and didn’t know the offense.
Because he was new at the time and taking over a team with just one win at that point, Garoppolo had more freedom to improvise. This week, he’s gotten his first reps with the starting offense since before the NFC Championship Game in January.
It’s been almost eight months since then and Garoppolo has felt every bit of that after going through right shoulder surgery and the corresponding rehab. And now, under circumstances nobody wanted, a sense of normalcy has returned.
“A long break, no OTAs, no training camp, it was a different type of year and I’ve been in some weird situations here obviously,” Garoppolo said. “But it has some good and bad. The shoulder feels good and obviously that’s No. 1, so once I was physically feeling better, the rest of the things kind of fell into place.”