Jan 9, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) sets to pass the ball in the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo is arguably the most fascinating player in the NFL. Not for the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s dashing good looks. But for how he can be so poised on one possession, dropping dimes all over the field, and then look so flustered in the pocket on the next drive, turning the ball over.

For Niners fans, watching Garoppolo run Kyle Shanahan’s offense often creates a roller coaster of emotions. They will scream with joy and then yell in anger. Praise him for a good throw and then rip him for a bad one. However, the 30-year-old veteran is 35-15 as the 49ers’ starter and now owns a 4-1 playoff record after helping San Francisco reach its second NFC championship game in three seasons with last Saturday’s 13-10 comeback win against the Packers in Green Bay.

Come Sunday night against the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, Garoppolo will have to be flawless for the 49ers to reach their second Super Bowl in three years. No interceptions, no overthrows, no standing like a deer in front of head lights when the pocket collapses. Quite simply, Jimmy G needs to ball out.

That’s not to say he needs to throw for 300-plus yards and four touchdowns (although he did so on three occasions in 2019 when the 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV). He just needs to have a clean game for four quarters. Fortunately for Garoppolo and the Niners, history is on their side.

Garoppolo manages to find ways to overcome in-game adversity and lead his team to victory. He has benefited from the backing of strong 49ers defenses, so his record isn’t all because of him. Football is a team sport, after all. But no matter what type of performance Garoppolo has against the Rams, he will have the support of his teammates, who routinely acknowledge his leadership, confidence and resilience after games.

"I mean, it's hard being a quarterback in this league, and we know what it takes, and Jimmy has the heart and the mindset to do it," wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “There's never a (time) that we ever doubted Jimmy. We know everything that he's capable of. And mistakes are going to happen, but it's just how you bounce back, and he bounced back."

Samuel said Garoppolo had a message for the offense before San Francisco’s winning drive at Lambeau Field.

“Jimmy comes in the huddle with all that energy, and yells, ‘Put everything out there on the line for your brother, and just go out here and make plays,’” Samuel said. “And that’s what we did for him.”


Rams trying to keep 49ers fans out of SoFi Stadium

Despite the team’s faith in Garoppolo, his roster spot next season is far from solidified.

General manager John Lynch traded multiple first-round picks to select quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers were prepared to move on from Garoppolo if he didn’t perform at a championship level this season, and he has been his usual inconsistent self. However, the Niners are one win away from returning to the Super Bowl.

What do Lynch and Shanahan do if San Francisco wins its sixth Lombardi Trophy with Jimmy G? Do they bring him back? Or do they trade him or let him walk? The team parted with a lot of draft capital to draft Lance, who basically redshirted during his rookie season aside from two starts.

The 49ers would be faced with a difficult decision between a proven QB and a promising one. Getting Garoppolo’s contract off the payroll would save them money and clear the way to play and develop Lance, who’s on a team-friendly rookie deal. The Niners can’t possibly sit their future franchise QB for another season, right?

If San Francisco does win it all, Garoppolo’s trade value will be at an all-time high. A contract extension with a new team would be easier for the eight-year pro to attain after leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl title. But first, Garoppolo must play well on Sunday against the Rams, a team he has beaten in all six of his career meetings.

Expect more ups and downs with Jimmy G at QB. But that talk doesn’t bother him. He learned long ago to block out the noise.

"I think it’s just about knowing yourself as a player, as a person,” Garoppolo said. “And as long as these guys in this locker room have faith in me and belief in me, that’s all I really care about.”

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