Garoppolo admits feeling ‘real awkward’ after 49ers drafted Lance

Garoppolo admits feeling ‘real awkward’ after 49ers drafted Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Two-plus years after the 49ers drafted his replacement, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was honest about how he felt throughout the 2021 NFL season.

In an exclusive interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mike Silver, Garoppolo discussed his roller coaster 2022 season and why the difficulties paled in comparison to the 2021 season after San Francisco selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft earlier that spring.

“Yeah, the (2021 season) was real awkward,” Garoppolo told Silver. “That was tougher than this past year, honestly. You’re always gonna be dealt a hard hand at some point, and you’ve just got to make the best of it, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. That was a hard time. But I had some good people around me to lean on. The brothers in the locker room, those guys played a big role. I don’t think the fans always saw all that stuff, but those guys really picked me up when I was down sometimes.

“That’s why I love those guys in the locker room. All the crap that we went through for four to five years, whatever it was, we all stayed together in the locker room, and I thought that’s what made us such a tight group.”

The 49ers drafting Lance signaled the inevitable end of Garoppolo’s tenure with the 49ers, even as the rookie served as the veteran’s backup throughout the season. The direction of the team was clear.

San Francisco then sought to trade Garoppolo after the 2021 season but was unable to find a trade partner after Garoppolo opted for offseason shoulder surgery. After a frustrating offseason for both parties, Garoppolo ended up signing a restructured contract to remain with the team as Lance’s backup in 2022.

When Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, Garoppolo, against all odds, was thrust back into action as the 49ers’ starting quarterback. The 31-year-old appeared in 11 games (10 starts) and was having arguably the best season of his career before sustaining a season-ending foot fracture in Week 13.

Garoppolo was dubbed the 49ers’ franchise quarterback after joining the team midway through the 2017 season and was immediately awarded a five-year, $137 million contract later that offseason.

There were plenty of highs for Garoppolo, including a Super Bowl XLVII appearance to go along with a 39-18 record as the 49ers’ starter, but there also were plenty of injuries and some pretty low moments that ultimately led to a mutual divorce in 2023.

Now Garoppolo is looking for a fresh start with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he hopes to recapture the success he had off and on with the 49ers.

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