The San Francisco 49ers entered 2022 with hopes of returning to the Super Bowl. Last season, the team almost achieved that goal but ended up losing to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.

To avenge that loss and play for the Lombardi Trophy again, the 49ers made a big move over the offseason, promoting Trey Lance to starting quarterback. Unfortunately for the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft, he suffered a major ankle injury that ended his season after just two games.

Despite what happened with Lance, the Niners are still having a solid season. They are currently 2-2 but undefeated in division play, making them the top team in the NFC West. This is mostly due to a pleasant surprise that only got another chance to prove himself after Lance went down with his ankle injury.

San Francisco 49ers pleasant surprise in 2022

Jimmy Garoppolo

This has been an interesting year for Jimmy Garoppolo. After leading the 49ers to at least the NFC title game in each of his healthy seasons as a starter, head coach Kyle Shanahan still decided to go with Lance as QB1 for 2022.

Garoppolo was involved in many resulting trade rumors over the summer. Every week, speculation ran rampant that he would be dealt to one of the many teams in need of a proven starting quarterback. Still, San Francisco decided to keep Garoppolo on a re-structured deal in which he makes $6.5 million plus bonuses.

The decision to keep him ended up paying off. With Lance’s season-ending injury, Garoppolo became the starter once again. Four weeks into the season, retaining the veteran signal-caller certainly looks like a wise decision. He has completed 47 of his 77 pass attempts, a completion rate of 61%, for 604 yards. He has also thrown for three touchdowns against just one pick, adding a rushing touchdown in his season debut.

When all hope was lost with Lance out, Garoppolo showed that he still has a lot left in the tank. Not only has he proven he can be a starter, but he can also win games. For his career, Jimmy G is 34-15 as a starter, with most of those games coming in his time in San Francisco.

On Monday in a revenge game against the Rams, Garoppolo went 16-of-27 for a season-best 239 yards. He threw for a touchdown and had no picks. San Francisco came away with a 24-9 win. Even though the Niners used the run game a bit more than in previous weeks, Garoppolo still had his moments and was key to the victory.

If the team had not kept him as a backup and instead completed a trade, fans and the front office would be regretting that decision. No one could know their quarterback of the future would suffer such a major setback, so perhaps it was more luck than any other thing.

Garoppolo was a starter in San Francisco for many years, yet just the fact he has that role once again is a surprise. The way he is playing is an even bigger but pleasant surprise. The Niners’ season might be effectively over had they traded him away, sitting at the bottom of the NFC West standings a long way from playoff contention.

Keeping Garoppolo will go down as San Francisco’s best decision in recent years. If the Niners make a deep postseason run, Jimmy G should earn a big payday somewhere else in 2023.