San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot that will require season-ending surgery early during Sunday's 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, head coach Kyle Shanahan announced.
The injury occurred at the 11:22 mark of the first quarter when two Dolphins, Jaelan Phillips and Jerome Baker, both took Garoppolo down for a sack. Garoppolo's left foot was stuck underneath Phillips awkwardly as he went down. Jimmy G limped off the field, was carted to the locker room for observation and did not return to the game after attempting only four passes.
It's a tough break for Garoppolo, a free agent at season's end, after he went from benched starter to potential hero for a well-rounded club that's now sitting at 8-4 on the season. He had replaced Trey Lance, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, after it appeared at various points this offseason that Garoppolo could be traded or cut.
"I mean, just hearing it, it was pretty crushing," Shanahan said told reporters after the game on Sunday. "We know what Jimmy has been through, how hard he's worked at this."
Brock Purdy, the 2022 NFL Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" who started this season as San Francisco's scout-team QB, replaced Garoppolo vs. Miami. Purdy went on to complete 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards, two TDs and one pick in the win. Prior to Sunday, he had appeared in three games as a rookie, completing 4 of 9 passes for 66 yards and an interception in a blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 7.
Shanahan gave Purdy a strong endorsement for his performance Sunday.
"Brock came in and made some big plays," Shanahan said. "We've got to clean some stuff up, obviously, but just throwing him in there in the heat of battle like that (with) how much (all-out pressure) that team did, too, which you guys can see. ... We were having to change a lot of stuff on the fly, so putting a lot of pressure on (Purdy) in that way.
"I thought he did a hell of a job doing it. Protected the ball well, didn't have any turnovers and made some big plays too that I thought weren't there always."
Purdy was a four-year starter at Iowa State, completing 67.7% of his passes, throwing for 12,170 yards, 81 touchdowns and 33 INTs and also rushing for 19 scores. He's the school's leader in completion percentage, passing yards and TDs and led the team to four straight bowl games.
Following Sunday's game, Shanahan even leaned into the Kurt Warner-esque storyline -- unknown Iowa quarterback thrust into the starting lineup out of nowhere – when asked how his team would handle the shocking Garoppolo news, using the same words former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil did in 1999 for Warner that Shanahan would for his new starter.
"We rally around Brock Purdy and play good football," Shanahan said.
Purdy's teammates also expressed confidence in the rookie leading them forward.
"He's played against the best defense in the league for the past 13 weeks," 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said, via NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. "He'll be fine."
Garoppolo and Purdy were the only two quarterbacks on the 49ers' roster this week. To fill the void created by Garoppolo's injury, the 49ers are signing quarterback Josh Johnson off Denver's practice squad as a backup, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
The Niners also have former Colts fourth-rounder Jacob Eason on their own practice squad.
"We know we've gotta bring in someone else in, at least," Shanahan said.
This is the kind of thing that could sink the 49ers' Super Bowl chances -- or give Shanahan a chance to flex his creative muscles. Long respected for his play-calling innovation, Shanahan might be forced to empty his bag of tricks and use his many multi-purpose tools, such as Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey, in slightly atypical roles.
The 49ers' schedule is somewhat favorable in that three of their final five games are at home, and the team won't have to leave the west coast for the remainder of the regular season. The Niners also have a defense that can keep almost any offense in check and plenty of other offensive talent that can rise up to this newest challenge.
But the injury also robs us of a Garoppolo vs. Tom Brady matchup when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrive to face Brady's childhood team next Sunday. Instead, we'll likely see Brady, the Round 6 legend, face off against Purdy, who now has a chance to write his own fairytale story.
Will Mr. Irrelevant become relevant?