5 options at quarterback if 49ers lose Jimmy Garoppolo to injury

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, 49ers
Nick Mullens #4 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The 49ers already went through this in 2018, losing Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending injury. But what are the array of choices if it happens again?

San Francisco 49ers fans probably don’t like thinking about this, especially considering they went through it two seasons ago.

But what would happen if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another disastrous injury like the one he endured in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 when he tore his ACL and subsequently landed on injured reserve?

Garoppolo’s injury that year thwarted his promising five-win finish to the 2017 season and all but derailed the Niners campaign for the rest of 2018, ultimately resulting in a lowly 4-12 record that year. And while Garoppolo bounced back nicely enough in 2019 in his first full year as a starter, there’s always the looming concern he could suffer another injury again.

Knock on wood, it doesn’t happen. But teams prepare for this sort of thing. And there are usually contingency plans built on top of contingency plans. Timing is crucial, and so is the length of any would-be injury.

Let’s assume the worst, however, speculating Jimmy G winds up missing a vast chunk of the regular season.

Here are San Francisco’s five options.

Option No. 1: 49ers start Nick Mullens again

One of the benefits stemming from Garoppolo’s 2018 injury was it opened up the door for backup quarterback Nick Mullens to become a household name.

Mullens came in relief of then-backup C.J. Beathard, whose own efforts in 2018 were anything but noteworthy. Amid a lost season, Mullens’ 3-5 record and quick release turned him into one of the better-known backups in recent Niners memory.

Heading into 2020, Mullens is pegged as the likely backup for Garoppolo again, and there’s little wrong with that. The former undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi proved he could win at the pro level.

So, why would there be any other options aside from Mullens?

Again, contingency plans for contingency plans. And considering San Francisco’s Super Bowl window is now, head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. wouldn’t hesitate to potentially explore upgrades over Mullens if those were available.

Or at least to back Mullens up, which would be another question to ask.