SANTA CLARA — The 49ers may already have made the transition to Jimmy Garoppolo without actually intending to.
With 1:07 left in their 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback C.J. Beathard threw an incomplete pass to Carlos Hyde in the flat. While Beathard released the ball, he took a hit from Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
The play didn’t count. Bennett lined up in the neutral zone and jumped offsides before the center snapped the ball — a 5-yard penalty against Seattle. But the hit counted. It knocked Beathard out of the game.
Bennett hit Beathard in his left knee. Beathard felt pain shoot from his knee to his hip as he lay on the ground and players from both teams gathered around him. The injury seemed serious. He will have an MRI today to see just how serious the injury is.
After a couple of minutes, Beathard stood up and walked off the field. Suddenly, fans began to cheer. Not because Beathard could walk. They were cheering for Garoppolo, whom they see as the 49ers’ savior. He was coming in.
On Garoppolo’s first play with the 49ers, he scrambled through a hole between the right guard and right tackle and ran for a 4-yard gain on third-and-5.
After a false start on fourth-and-1, Garoppolo threw his first pass with the 49ers — an 8-yard strike to Aldrick Robinson on fourth-and-6. First down with 14 seconds left in the game.
While the clock ran, Garoppolo turned toward the 49ers sideline to get the play call. When he got it, he held up two fingers and yelled, “Two two two!!” to his teammates, indicating the play.
The center snapped the ball with five seconds remaining in the game. Garoppolo dropped back, looked to his right and found his primary receiver.
Garoppolo quickly looked over the middle and found his secondary receiver.
Garoppolo started to scramble. He ran out of the pocket to his left, bought time, set his feet and threw across his body to wide receiver Louis Murphy, who caught the ball in the end zone. Touchdown. It was like something from a fairytale.
“We got an off-schedule play,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said, referring to Garoppolo’s touchdown pass. “(Garoppolo) ran around and made a good play to Murphy. It’s nice to get in the end zone.”
Especially because the 49ers don’t get there often. Garoppolo’s touchdown throw was the 49ers’ only touchdown of the game.
Here’s the play from Murphy’s perspective: “We were in a two-minute pace and I ran a slant. Jimmy stayed alive. I tried to stay alive on my slant and kept coming across and he threw up a great ball and I came down with it.”
The entire time Garoppolo was on the field, he seemed calm, poised and confident. As opposed to Beathard, who seem shell-shocked after taking his usual beating.
“You always have to be ready,” Garoppolo said after the game. “You never know when your time is going to come, if it’s going to come, so when it does you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Garoppolo’s time came when the 49ers were trailing 24-6. That was garbage time.