We are officially back in the Jimmy Garoppolo era, as quarterback of the future Trey Lance is done for the season with a broken ankle, and Jimmy G was in playoff form as the Niners beat Seattle by 20 points.
Your San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks, 27-7 Sunday, which is not nearly the biggest news from Sunday’s game. The biggest news from Sunday’s game is that 49ers quarterback Trey Lance is suddenly out for the year with a broken ankle, and that Jimmy Garoppolo insurance policy is suddenly looking like a genius move now. Garoppolo stepped in seamlessly, the Niners looked like a playoff-quality team with him running the offense, and they did what they couldn’t do in last week’s loss to the Bears — knock out an inferior opponent early and never let them back in the game.
Trey Lance left the game late in the first quarter, having played only 16 snaps. After getting tackled on a two-yard run well inside field goal range, Lance was immediately mobbed by concerned teammates. He was carted off the field with the expression of a man who knew his injury was so bad he would not be playing any more this season. Twitter did its thing throughout the rest of the game, confirming that Lance is indeed lost for the year.
But Garoppolo was sparkling in relief. Taking over with a 3-0 lead, Jimmy hit first five throws in a row (aided buy a pass interference penalty, but still) and then hit tight end Ross “Kittle for a Day” Dwelley for an all-alone 38-yard touchdown capped with a reach and a lunge.
Dwelley would also grab a “fumble” on a muffed punt return, when a Seahawks blocker basically just ran into Ricardo Lockette. It did not help Seattle that they ran just too many silly trick plays in hopes of making up for the talent gap.
With the steady hand of Jimmy G, this game felt over by halftime (at which point it was 20-0). Whether your preferred analogy is “like riding a bike” or “fits like a glove,” Garoppolo knows this personnel better than does Trey Lance, and can easily get Levi’s Stadium crowing with “Aiyuuuuuuuk” or “Juuuuuusz.” It obviously helps that the Niners cut down on the penalties (one Sunday, versus 12 last week against the Bears). But when Jimmy sealed this deal one a one-yard quarterback sneak late in the fourth, he was mobbed by teammates who clearly love him and are rooting for him in a way that has not yet seemed to apply to Trey Lance.
Sunday’s game was not about the game. Sunday’s game was a sudden, unexpected announcement that this year’s San Francisco 49ers are now last year’s San Francisco 49ers. And that’s a fine thing! Last year’s San Francisco 49ers were two minutes away from a Super Bowl berth. Niners fans can be happy locked and loaded with that same team, and let the chips fall where they may come playoff time. Sunday’s game was the odd occurrence where the 49ers lost their would-be star player, but still saw their playoff odds dramatically improve.
Sure, it is much easier to beat the Seattle Seahawks when they do not have Russell Wilson playing for them. Wilson is 17-4 career against San Francisco. That stat comes into play next Sunday night, when the 49ers head into Denver to play Wilson’s new team the Broncos, in a nationally televised Sunday Night Football game.
Image: SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)