As a 49er fan who was watching this game wearing the very jersey that bears his name, it was crushing on multiple levels to see this injury occur. I felt bad for the team, the fans, but most importantly I felt bad for Jimmy Garoppolo as his broken foot couldn’t have happened at a worse time in his career.
This injury has a far-reaching dynasty impact that I will dive into. The current team dynamics will change slightly for the remainder of this year, and while most will fare for a slight decline, some stand a chance to actually go up in value heading into the most important part of your fantasy season.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB SF
I can’t express my grief enough for this guy. In 57 total games as the 49ers starting quarterback, Garoppolo achieved a 39-18 win-loss record, which is a winning percentage (68.4%) that is higher than the great Joe Montana (65.9%). He has made some bone-headed plays in his career, but this year he was finally assembling a season that any starter would be proud of.
Garoppolo is no stranger to injury. He has suffered three season-ending injuries in his career with an ACL tear in 2018, a severe ankle injury in 2020, and finally a broken foot in 2022. He has also missed a plethora of other games due to smaller injuries, completing only one full season as the starting 49ers quarterback in five tries (2019).
Through injuries and adversity, rumors and negativity from fans and media alike, Garoppolo always managed to put the noise behind him and win when the team needed him to. In my opinion, 2022 was his best season to date, accumulating a 7-3 record with 16 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions, which was enough to convince the 49ers brass into considering long-term options as late as last week.
But alas, that is not to happen and the era of Jimmy Garoppolo is all but over in San Francisco. The injury bug that has plagued him his entire career and has continued to frustrate the 49ers has finally taken its toll, and the 49ers will most likely move on with Trey Lance next season.
As for Garoppolo, his options are far and wide provided he can heal soon enough for free agency. The Jets may be the top option, given that the team already has a high-powered offense in place that only lacks a franchise quarterback. His familiarity with head coach Robert Saleh is also a plus.
The Colts, Commanders, Texans, Saints, Panthers, and Falcons could all use an upgrade at the position. The Cardinals, Bucs, and Titans may all have vacancies next season as well. So unless there are about 10 franchise quarterbacks ready to go in the draft next season, Garoppolo should find himself with plenty of suitors.
If you are in a single-quarterback league and you can afford to stash him, you might as well do it. His value may not rise much but it won’t go down either, and this is about as good as you can do for a backup quarterback. If you’re in a two quarterback league, you should hold firm and wait to see his landing spot. However, if you need to create space in any league size or format, Garoppolo is a suitable candidate to be dropped.
Brock Purdy, QB SF
I can’t even believe I’m writing about this kid. Everyone knows he was the last player chosen in the 2022 draft by now, but making the roster and becoming the eventual starter on a team loaded with talent was not exactly in the cards for anyone.
Cold off the bench and facing a large challenge versus the Dolphins – who already had the lead – Purdy completed 25 of 37 pass attempts for 210 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception that wasn’t due to an errant throw. The 49ers offense did not look much different with Purdy at quarterback than Garoppolo, and that’s mostly because the 49ers didn’t need it to be. Purdy took what was given to him and his playmakers did the rest.
Purdy will be put into a position to succeed in the way that Shanahan has done for other backups in his career, most notably Nick Mullens, who had the third-most passing yards in his first 13 starts of his career. This time around Purdy has a stable of playmakers at his disposal, so the transition from backup to starter may be easier than ever before.
If you need a quarterback and are desperate enough, there probably aren’t many options available and the lack of choices makes Brock Purdy look like a good one. That being said, I think you’ll be fine if this was a choice you had to make anyway. He may not win you any games but I don’t think you’ll lose any either.
Christian McCaffrey, RB SF
If there’s one player on the roster who will benefit the most from the Garoppolo injury, this is it. McCaffrey was the safety valve the whole time Purdy was behind center versus Miami, accumulating 10 targets and 17 carries in what became one of McCaffrey’s best outings of the year.
With Elijah Mitchell out the rest of the regular season, it’s Christain McCaffrey all game, every game. Owners heading into the playoffs can rejoice knowing that the offense now runs through McCaffrey.
Deebo Samuel, WR SF
I think this may be somewhat of a lateral move or a slight decline. Samuel makes his points through quick passes and breaking tackles on his way toward big gains. With the lack of running back options due to the Elijah Mitchell injury, the 49ers haven’t been shy to give Samuel multiple touches via the backfield.
I don’t think we’ll see that one deep post pass Samuel always seems to be on the receiving end of at some point, but the workload will otherwise still be there, so owners shouldn’t have to worry too much. Based on the target depth that we see next week when the 49ers play the Bucs, we’ll all have a better idea of what we can expect from a production standpoint going forward.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR SF
Aiyuk is the smaller clone of Deebo Samuel who specializes in short pass plays and bubble screens. Again, I think this will be more of a lateral move for Aiyuk than a regression or increase in workload. Purdy will be asked to get the ball out quickly and Aiyuk is almost always the beneficiary of this gameplan.
However it’s probably safe to assume that nobody is relying on Aiyuk to start for their fantasy roster, so this is perhaps a moot point this late into the season. The only thing you need to know is that there is nothing lost or gained in this regard.
George Kittle, TE SF
Of all players affected, I think Kittle is the player that will be affected the most in a negative way. The Dolphins blitzed heavily when Purdy assumed the role, and as a result, Kittle was asked to be less of a route runner and more of a blocker. This resulted in only three targets for Kittle in the contest, providing minimal production for fantasy owners.
I think other teams will test Purdy via the same method, relegating Kittle as a sixth offensive lineman rather than a pass-catcher. The 49ers will also probably lean on the running game a bit more where Kittle shines as an outside blocker.
If the 49ers are expected to put their players in a position to succeed, and Kyle Shanahan does exactly that, then I anticipate the 49ers to ask Kittle to do what he’s best at, and that’s to dominate defenders at the line of scrimmage.
Whatever happens down the road, it’s important to note that the 49ers haven’t been winning games due to their offense anyway. They weren’t expected to put up 30 points per game and won’t be asked to do so going forward either. This is a ground-it-out team that leans on the running game and relies on its defense to close it out.
So you have Christain McCaffrey you can be a little more confident heading into the playoffs. He may even win you a game or two and you’d have Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy to thank. But if you have Kittle, you may need to start sorting out your options sooner than later.
- The Dynasty Value of Trading a 2023 Rookie Pick for a 2024 Pick - May 19, 2023
- How and Where to Pick Running Backs - May 15, 2023
- How to Trade Back in Your Dynasty Rookie Draft - May 9, 2023