The Adventure Continues: The Quest For Six

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Courtesy of All-Pro Reels

49ers’ Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Kiana Guanga , Staff Writer

The San Francisco 49ers opened their 2022-23 season on Sunday, September 11 in Chicago against the home team Bears. The team hopes to build off the momentum of last season while establishing a new identity. The Red & Gold finished 2-1 in the NFL preseason, with exceptional performances from their secondary.

The team led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo concluded the 2021-22 season 10-7 as one of the most proficient teams in the NFL. After a one-year absence in the playoffs, the team was able to clinch the Wild Card round in their week 18 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers were able to overcome the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to compete in the NFC Championship against the Rams, but fell short, eliminating them from Superbowl contention.

Despite their early exit, the team built a new sense of chemistry and determination throughout their 2021-22 season run that would transition into the following season.

The Off-season

Many expected the team to make more aggressive moves over the off-season considering their striking distance from Superbowl LVI. 

The team lost three offensive line starters, two critical defensive contributors, and a top running back in the league. 

Numerous rumors lingered around the fan-base about releasing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The two-time Superbowl champion signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract with San Francisco in 2017, making him an unrestricted free agent in 2022. Various concerns arose about Garoppolo’s departure in 2022, as he was able to lead the 49ers into the NFL Playoffs twice in the previous three seasons. In contrast, releasing Garoppolo meant creating $25 million in salary-cap space.

Coach Kyle Shanahan addressed the media regarding the starting quarterback situation ahead of the 49ers’ training camp, “ We have moved on to Trey”. Trey Lance was selected third overall by the 49ers in the 2021 draft. Lance served as the 49ers’ backup quarterback his first year and only saw the field 6 out of the team’s 17 games. How is he going to lead the team back into the playoffs? Where’s Garoppolo heading?

In late August, the franchise announced their agreement with Garoppolo on a one-year, $6.5 million contract extension. Garoppolo and Lance were to replace one another’s quarterback roles. 

Some fans speculated the quarterback switch from veteran Jimmy Garoppolo to the inexperienced Trey Lance. “I think getting Lance up to speed in the league will be tricky. He does not have a lot of experience… he could become good in a season or two, but not this season,” Wilcox English and Journalism teacher Ian Jackson predicted. However, many fans supported the role switch. “It will be testing the waters this year for Lance, but with the hard work the rest of the team has been putting in, I know they will help him navigate his first year,” SoCal native Lily Brinkman stated. 

Having Lance and Garoppolo on the roster allowed the 49ers to develop a franchise quarterback while maintaining veteran leadership and security in the event Lance got injured or did not meet expectations. That security was assured in the 49ers’ Week 2 game vs. the Seattle Seahawks when Lance suffered an ankle injury that required potential season-ending surgery. Garoppolo was to lead the Red & Gold on his back once again. 

The 49ers’ All-Pro receiver Deebo Samuel exercised a critical role in leading the team to the 2021-22 NFC Championship. Samuel requested a trade in late April, claiming he was dissatisfied with his role on offense. Additionally, the wide receiver removed his 49ers Instagram profile picture, unfollowed the franchise, and removed every post of himself representing the team. It was believed to be the end of the Deebo era in San Francisco. However, the 49ers announced their agreement with Samuel on a three-year contract extension worth up to $73.5 million in late July. The extension of Deebo’s term in San Francisco expands the teams’ options of agile receivers who can consistently get the ball into the end zone.

The Quest for Six

The 49ers were able to develop a new sense of momentum in their 2021-22 season they expect to renew and grow in 2022-23. Stronger determination than ever before motivates the team as they strive on their quest for six rings – their first title in over two decades.