Niners’ blown lead ends magical playoff run and possibly the Jimmy Garoppolo era

The 49ers’ dream of going to the Super Bowl ended with a devastating loss in their final game. Jimmy Garoppolo’s future is now uncertain as he will be entering free agency at the end of this season and there are rumors that his time could end soon.

The “jimmy garoppolo age” is a question that has been brought up multiple times. The Niners’ “blown lead ended the magical playoff run and possibly the Jimmy Garoppolo era.”

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – The conclusion came sooner and in a more painful manner than the 49ers could have expected.

The Niners blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Los Angeles Rams on their way to a humiliating 20-17 defeat in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, eerily similar to their most recent postseason setback (Super Bowl LIV).

It put an end to a historic run in which the Niners, who were seeded sixth, came within a whisker of qualifying for the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. It was the end of their season, a six-game winning run against their NFC West rival, and probably the end of Jimmy Garoppolo’s tenure as San Francisco’s quarterback.

For those endings to happen, the Niners had to endure another late-game collapse. The same team that was 3-1 in the postseason with a fourth-quarter lead of 10-plus points since 2019 let another one slip away at the worst possible time. The rest of the NFL is 23-0 in those situations during that span, per ESPN Stats & Information data.

In a season-ending defeat to the Rams, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers couldn’t hold on to a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. Jed Jacobsohn/AP Photo

“We came up short tonight, and that’s part of sports and life, and we’ve got to deal with it,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Those guys are suffering right now, but they’ll bounce back and be better for it.”

Since Sean McVay took over as coach in 2017, the Rams have gone 1-23 when behind by multiple digits in the second half. It was only natural that the second such win occurred in the NFC Championship Game, considering the first came against the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 NFC championship game.

A Niners defense that had spent most of the day on the field looked to run out of steam in the fourth quarter, despite holding a 17-7 lead. The Rams moved fast, and quarterback Matthew Stafford threw an 11-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. After tying the game with a field goal, the Rams took the lead with another defensive stop and a 30-yard field goal.

Garoppolo’s last-ditch try to avoid defensive lineman Aaron Donald was thwarted when Rams linebacker Travin Howard intercepted a ball that went through the hands of running back JaMychal Hasty.

Now, the 49ers have a slew of concerns heading into the summer, none more pressing than what lies next for Garoppolo and the quarterback position. All along, it seemed like the goal was to get through this season and then throw the reins over to rookie Trey Lance.

“Emotions are high after a game win or loss, and it’s one of those things where you have to be grateful for it, grin about it, and focus on the positives,” he stated “According to Garoppolo. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days, weeks, or months, but I adore this group.”

While Garoppolo did enough to bring the Niners to another NFC Championship Game, his flaws were exposed once again on Sunday as San Francisco’s offense battled to find consistency. Garoppolo threw for 233 yards on 16-of-30 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. In the first half, he also had a poor misfire on a would-be touchdown pass to open tight end George Kittle.

It wasn’t all horrible, as has been the case many times during Garoppolo’s career with the Niners. It wasn’t all roses, however. It was just insufficient.

Stafford lofted a long ball to nobody in particular in the center of the field with 9 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the game. With a chance for an easy interception, Niners defender Jaquiski Tartt camped beneath it and… dropped it.

“It’s a moment that a lot of players I know dream of,” Tartt said, “simply being in this moment, tie ballgame, and you can make the game-changing play.” “That’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last week.” I know I can make that play, but I didn’t make it when the opportunity arose. I knew it was a significant play in the game, a big chance for me and the team, and I just feel like I let my brothers down as a player.”

Tartt’s error was costly on a day when every score counted, as the Rams responded by rushing into Niners territory before settling for a field goal. With those three points, Los Angeles knotted the game at 17 and sent San Francisco into the offseason.

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