The 49ers earned a 33-17 victory over the Dolphins in Week 13, but it proved to be a pyrrhic one as San Francisco lost a second starting quarterback to injury this season.
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot during the first half. He was carted off the field and then quickly ruled out of the contest.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced after the game that Garoppolo’s season was over.
“He’ll be out, he’ll need surgery, broke a few things in there,” Shanahan told reporters.
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Garoppolo entered the season as the backup to Trey Lance, but he took over in Week 2 after Lance suffered a right ankle fracture against the Seahawks.
Garoppolo fared well as Lance’s replacement, completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 2,381 yards, 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He led San Francisco to a 7-3 record in his 10 starts and had them in first place in the NFC West.
With his season now over, the 49ers will have to take a next-man-up approach at quarterback. That won’t prove easy as they move to their third-string QB. They reportedly are adding veteran depth to compensate for Garoppolo’s loss.
So, what are the 49ers’ options at quarterback? The Sporting News breaks down who is on the roster, plus a handful of veterans they could add.
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49ers’ quarterback options
Purdy may not be well-known, but the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has been the backup to Garoppolo since Lance went down in Week 2. He has played sparingly, but he performed well against the Dolphins.
Purdy completed 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He looked poised and managed the game well, as evidenced by his 88.8 passer rating.
Purdy has attempted just 46 passes this season as a rookie, but he had success as a four-year starter at Iowa State. He completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 12,170 yards, 81 touchdowns and 33 interceptions with the Cyclones. That experience should help him as he tries to guide the 49ers to success in the postseason.
Of course, it’s worth noting that no rookie quarterback has ever won a Super Bowl as a starter, so the 49ers might want to add a veteran who came take over if Purdy struggles.
Newton may not be the player he once was, but he does have experience. The former Panthers and Patriots QB has made 144 regular-season starts, with a 75-68-1 record. He was voted NFL MVP for the 2015 season. He has the mobility that teams covet.
That said, Newton has declined steeply in recent seasons due to injury, and he has struggled with his accuracy and turnovers. Between his 2020 season with the Patriots and hi 2021 return to Carolina, he completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,341 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He might not be good enough of a passer to cut it anymore.
Still, Newton can run the ball. He has carried 184 times for 822 yards and 17 touchdowns since 2020.
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Here’s another experienced backup option. Fitzpatrick, 40, has made 147 NFL starts, and while his 59-87-1 career record may not be impressive, he has posted a few solid seasons. He is also a well-regarded leader, and he has 223 passing touchdowns to 169 interceptions.
Fitzpatrick is retired and working as a studio analyst for Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” broadcasts, but perhaps he could be convinced to return to the NFL in the right situation. The 49ers have a strong supporting cast and are positioned to make a strong postseason push. That may appeal to someone who has never started a postseason game.
Johnson is another well-traveled veteran. The 36-year-old has played for 17 professional teams — including 14 NFL teams — and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that he is returning to San Francisco after being signed off the Broncos’ practice squad.
Johnson has had three different stints with the 49ers during his career: in 2012, 2014 and 2020-21. His most recent spell was under Shanahan, so there is familiarity.
Johnson has a 1-8 career record as a starter, but he completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 638 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in limited action with the Jets and Ravens during the 2021 season.
Like Johnson, Rosen has spent time with Shanahan and the 49ers. He was with the team during the 2020 season but never saw action.
Rosen, 25, has struggled since being selected No. 10 overall by the Cardinals in the 2018 NFL Draft. He started 16 games over his first two seasons, with Arizona and Miami, and posted a 3-13 record. For his career, he has completed 54 percent of his passes for 2,864 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Shanahan appears to be going with a more experienced quarterback, but the UCLA product has a connection to the team, so he can’t be ruled out as a depth option, at the very least.
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Eason is the only other healthy quarterback on the 49ers aside from Purdy. The third-year passer from Washington is on the practice squad.
Eason has a cannon of an arm, but he has thrown just 10 career NFL passes, two of which have been intercepted. It’s hard to imagine the 49ers trusting the 25-year-old. That’s why it seemed likely that they would add a veteran, which appears to be Johnson.