3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 13 Win vs. Dolphins
The San Francisco 49ers won on Sunday, but they're probably feeling about as low as they possibly could on a victory Monday.
San Francisco handled a very good Miami Dolphins team, notching a decisive 33-17 victory. However, it also lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a foot injury that will sideline him for the remainder of 2022.
Garoppolo will need season-ending surgery, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner.
Now winners of five straight, the 49ers were rolling and looking like a team that could make a Super Bowl push. With Garoppolo out, though, the race to the postseason becomes much more difficult. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks are on deck, so San Francisco will have to regroup quickly.
Garoppolo has been solid for the 49ers this season, but we now know that he's done for the year. Here's what else we learned during the 49ers' Week 13 win over the Dolphins.
The 49ers Are at a Quarterback Crossroad
This marks the second time this season that the 49ers have lost their starting quarterback to injury. 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance was tapped as the Week 1 starter, only to suffer a leg injury in Week 2.
That was when Garoppolo re-entered the starting lineup, and he quickly reestablished himself as the offensive leader. His loss will be felt throughout the rest of the year.
"That was brutal," running back Christian McCaffrey said, per Wagoner. "I haven't been around a long time here, but I can't say enough good things about him."
The 49ers will have to regroup without Garoppolo, and head coach Kyle Shanahan insisted after the game that there's no chance of a Lance return either.
"No, he can't," Shanahan said, per Kyle Madson of Niners Wire.
This likely leaves San Francisco leaning on seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy for the rest of the season. The 49ers have signed journeyman Josh Johnson off of the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, but this should be Purdy's team from here on out.
Obviously, this is not where San Francisco had hoped to be entering the final month of the season.
Garoppolo's Injury Clouds the 2023 QB Picture too
Losing the starting quarterback and locker room leader is a serious blow to San Francisco's Super Bowl hopes. It dramatically clouds the 49ers' 2023 quarterback outlook as well.
Garoppolo had tossed 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season while posting an impressive 103.0 passer rating. His high-level play and consistency reportedly had the 49ers considering another reunion in 2023.
"A few months after the team and Garoppolo amicably decided to move on, only to get back together again in a wild sequence of events that led to him being their starting QB once again, both sides are open to him being back for the 2023 season, sources say," NFL Media's Ian Rapoport wrote Sunday morning.
The 49ers were ready to move on from Garoppolo in the offseason, and he took a pay cut to stay as the backup before being handed the reins once again. After Sunday's injury, it's hard to believe that Garoppolo will be back in 2023.
Durability concerns are the primary reason why. Players can't and shouldn't be blamed for injuries, but the reality is that Garoppolo just can't stay healthy. He suffered a torn ACL in 2018, dealt with ankle injuries in 2020 and battled thumb and shoulder issues last season.
Garoppolo underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason, which likely played a big role in San Francisco's inability to trade him.
The 49ers made the Super Bowl in Garoppolo's lone healthy season (2019), but they're unlikely to roll the dice on him once again. Jimmy G will be a free agent in the spring, and our guess is that he'll be playing elsewhere in the fall.
The big question is whether it will be Lance, Purdy or a quarterback-to-be-named starting for San Francisco in 2023.
This Defense Can Still Take San Francisco Far
Here's the good news. San Francisco's defense can still take the 49ers far in the postseason—if they can get steady play out of Purdy.
And Purdy was mostly steady against the 49ers. He did have an interception but finished 25-of-37 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. The defense, meanwhile, was special.
Miami boasts playmakers like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert. It ranks fourth in total offense and eighth in scoring. On Sunday, the Dolphins were stonewalled by the 49ers.
The Dolphins were held to just 308 yards and 14 first downs. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa tossed two interceptions and was sacked three times and lost a fumble. Miami was 0-of-7 on third down.
Headlined by Nick Bosa, Charles Omenihu, Fred Warner and Talanoa Hufanga, the 49ers defense is the best in the NFL. It ranks first in yards allowed, first in points allowed, and hasn't surrendered more than 17 points in its past five games.
If the 49ers can shut down Miami, they can keep it close with just about anyone. If Purdy can manage the game, avoid mistakes and get the ball to playmakers like McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco still has a shot at a deep playoff run.
Losing a quarterback is always tough, but San Francisco is as well equipped to overcome it as any team in the league. This is still a squad that teams won't want to face in January.