San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was apparently close to being on the other sideline for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.
He told reporters the NFC South team was "at the top of the list, one of the top couple" clubs in pursuit of him via trade this offseason.
There was a time this offseason when it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the veteran quarterback would be traded. After all, the 49ers traded up to select Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft and were ready to hand the offense to the younger option.
Carolina was connected to Garoppolo during the offseason but ultimately decided to trade for Baker Mayfield instead.
Perhaps it would want a do-over at this point considering it is off to a 1-3 start with Mayfield largely struggling while completing 54.7 percent of his passes for 747 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
San Francisco never traded Garoppolo, and his shoulder surgery may have weakened the market in trade discussions.
That is a fortuitous break for the 49ers at this point because Lance was lost for the season to injury. Having Garoppolo means the team still had a veteran option who led it to the NFC Championship Game last season and the Super Bowl during the 2019 campaign.
It has been an up-and-down start for Garoppolo and the 2-2 49ers, as he stepped out of the back of the end zone for a safety and threw a late pick during an ugly loss to the Denver Broncos and managed the game while effectively getting the ball into Deebo Samuel's hands during the most recent win over the Los Angeles Rams.
He could have been managing games for Carolina had a trade happened, but he is instead looking to lead San Francisco to the postseason once again.