Jimmy Garoppolo is looking forward to finally getting in a full season as the 49ers' starting quarterback.
Although San Francisco has suffered some big injuries in two years under coach Kyle Shanahan - including the torn left ACL Garoppolo suffered in Week 3 at Kansas City last season - there are high hopes for the team to rebound from 4-12 and challenge for the playoffs with its QB back healthy in 2019.
Garoppolo spoke with Sporting News this week about his tough road to quick recovery for this season, the continued influence of Tom Brady and how the 49ers' improving offensive weapons - including the new Gronk - can help his team meet those lofty expectations.
Sporting News: You had a frustrating end to 2018 after injuring your knee right when you were getting settled in Kyle's offense. How difficult was that, and then how rewarding has it been to come back ready to play less than a year later?
Jimmy Garoppolo: Initially, it was very tough. Mentally, it was hard accepting that you had put all this work in during the offseason and you don't get to see any of it go through. But having Jerick McKinnon (torn ACL last August) around, as we were both rehabbing at the same time and talking to guys who had been in that situation before, really helped.
To get back for OTAs the way I did, and that I was able to participate, I couldn't have asked for much more. I'm feeling good going into training camp.
SN: When you couldn't be out on the field and observed what C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens were doing in your place, what did you take away from that experience?
Garoppolo: You're seeing the game from a different perspective, more of a coach's perspective. I took every opportunity, whether it was third down, red zone or backed up in our own end and said, "What would I call here? What would I be thinking?" It helped my mental game tremendously watching the way Kyle does and strengthened us as quarterback and play-caller. The more we can do that, the better.
SN: When you saw what the team was doing to upgrade the offense this offseason, how much faster did that make you want to get back?
Garoppolo: The motivation to get back on the field, it's always been there, because I haven't been used to not being on the field. Then seeing the guys who came in, the free agents we signed, the rookies we drafted, things started to come together, piece by piece.
Exciting is a good word for it, but also anxious to get back out there and go to work with them.