Allen Park — All signs point to Jimmy Garoppolo starting at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s season opener against the Detroit Lions, including his not-so-coy response to the question last week.
“Yeah, I have a pretty good idea,” Garoppolo said with a smile. “It’s whatever (coach Kyle Shanahan) decides, yeah. I have a pretty good idea. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now and everything and just the offense as a whole.”
But just because Garoppolo is starting, doesn’t mean rookie Trey Lance won’t see some playing time. In fact, the Lions are expecting it.
“Yeah, I think you’ve got to prepare for both,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “You have to assume that they may try to mix him in there and use him a little bit. We’ll make sure that we’ve taken care of some of that. We’ve been working that style of offense a little bit in camp, just in general, against our own defense.”
The 49ers traded for Garoppolo in the middle of the 2017 season, sending a second-round pick to the New England Patriots in exchange. Upon arriving out west, he went on to win all five of his starts for a team that finished the season with a 6-10 record.
Unfortunately, injuries have been a problem during his tenure with the team. In 2018, he missed 13 games after suffering a torn ACL and last year, an ankle injury limited him to six starts.
So despite an impressive 22-8 record as a starter and leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2019 season, the franchise paid a steep cost — four draft picks, including three first-rounders — to move up to No. 3 and select Lance in the most recent draft.
Being a rookie, Lance saw the bulk of the workload during the preseason, throwing 41 passes to Garoppolo’s 16. And the youngster struggled, completing just 46.3% of his throws for 276 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
In the portion of practice open to the media this week, Lance didn’t throw a pass, but Campbell has been around the block a few times, as both a player and coach, so he’s not reading too much into that.
“I’m well aware of all of the games people play,” Campbell said. “It’s very easy to sit a guy out and then when all of you leave, the media leaves, he’s out there. I’ve been around where a guy had a neck brace on and then everybody left and then he throws it off and he’s out there at practice. So, I’m well aware of those things. We have to prepare like he’s playing. We’ll have a plan for him and we’ll be ready.”
Regardless of whether Lance sees the field this Sunday, the belief is it’s only a matter of time before he takes over as San Francisco’s starting quarterback, particularly with the dual-threat ability he offers that Garoppolo doesn’t.
“I think everyone knows he can run,” Lions outside linebacker Romeo Okwara said. “He can really use his legs, but he showed he can throw the ball as well. We’re going to be ready to attack him if he gets on the field.”