No. 1: 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo is on this list for a couple of different reasons.
For starters, it’s easy to understand why any team’s starting quarterback needs to get off to a hot start, especially when that team’s expectations are notably high. And with Garoppolo being San Francisco’s top-paid player, well, that’s explanation enough.
But the bigger reason, of course, is the presence of Trey Lance, who didn’t do enough during the preseason to convincingly take over Jimmy G’s job as the starter but nevertheless flashed enough promise and prowess to suggest the rookie is closer than many thought he’d be by the time Week 1 rolls around.
Garoppolo has two relatively easy games to open up the 2021 campaign, which is good for him. Given the pressure, though, Garoppolo will have to look excellent under center, not the underperforming and mistake-prone quarterback 49ers fans have seen all too often.
That alone might be the reason why Garoppolo must get off to a hot start. As soon as he has a seriously bad game or two, there will be calls from the fanbase and media to start Lance.
And from that point, there likely won’t be any going back in the opposite direction.