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Ostler: Garoppolo, 49ers’ poster guy of resiliency, keeps beating the odds

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 1/23/2022 By Scott Ostler
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) completed his last four passes of the game, picking up 56 yards. © Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) completed his last four passes of the game, picking up 56 yards.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — What can you say about the strange and eventful saga of Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers’ quarterback?

You can say it’s still alive, against all odds and expectations.

Like an 11th-hour stay-of-execution phone call from the governor, Garoppolo marched the 49ers to a game-winning 45-yard field goal as time expired for a shocking 13-10 victory over the mighty Packers.

How do you like Jimmy now?

Odds are that Garoppolo will be quarterbacking elsewhere next season, but love him or hate him, he’ll be leading the 49ers into next weekend’s NFC Championship Game.

Garoppolo came into the season as a lame duck, and he looked like one for much of Saturday’s game, literally and figuratively. He had a sprained right shoulder and a damaged right hand — a small fracture and torn ligaments. Held together with bubble gum and baling wire.

But Garoppolo has a style and a quiet confidence that kind of conceal his toughness.

He sauntered off the team bus Saturday and into Lambeau wearing a sharp black suit and black shirt, neck chain and shades. Shades in January in upper Wisconsin. In Garoppolo’s world, the future is that bright.

He also wore the smile that gives Garoppolo his own heat source even in the low-teens temperature of this NFL frozen outpost. Let other quarterbacks brood and scowl and sink into their zone. Garoppolo goes to he smile.

In pregame warm-ups Garoppolo was seen, massive smile on his face, shimmying his hips like a Latin dancer as he got loose. The Jimmy Shimmy? Steph Curry was taking notes.

Maybe Garoppolo knew something the rest of us didn’t. That he and his teammates, who had been through so much crazy stuff this season, and weren’t given much chance Saturday, can play some football.

It would be a stretch to call the 49ers Garoppolo’s team, considering the amount of freight carried by the mighty defense and by the running attack, but Garoppolo’s easygoing hipster swag is infectuous. When Robbie Gould came into the interview room after kicking the winning field goal, he was asked how he feels.


Video: 49ers Win: Stars George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo reacts to 49ers 13-10 playoff win (CBS SF Bay Area)

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“Feels great, baby!” Gould said with a grin, recycling Garoppolo’s famous postgame TV quote.

Despite a disastrous first half, sacks and an interception, Garoppolo sauntered onto the field — not wearing shades — with 3:20 left in the game, in falling snow, and completed passes of 12 yards to George Kittle and 14 to Deebo Samuel before turning the game over to the 49ers’ rushing attack, five runs to set up the winning field goal.

Garoppolo completed his last four passes of the game, for 56 yards.

And somehow the 49ers won. I asked Garoppolo how he picked himself up, mentally, after the disastrous start.

“It really wasn’t that (bad feeling), there was a calmness, honestly,” Garoppolo said. “It was probably midway through the first or second (quarter) that I realized it was going to be that type of game They got off to a good start with that first drive, but our defense was playing great. There’s just a feel to the game. Even when they had the lead, I felt like we were in control of the game, as crazy as that sounds.”

It probably helps stay cool if you start cool. Walking into the stadium, Garoppolo didn’t look like a battered and bowed quarterback, but for most of the first half, he played like one. Shortly after halftime, as snowfall turned Lambeau Field into a magical snow globe, Trey Lance was a trending topic on Twitter, as a howling mob of Jimmy haters were calling for head coach Kyle Shanahan to jerk Garoppolo and send in the rookie.

The mob had plenty of ammunition. Garoppolo’s first half: 3-for-9, for 43 yards, three sacks and the interception. Not all the blame fell on Garoppolo — three of his passes were dropped, including a potential touchdown laser to Kittle — but the mob is pretty mobbish.

They might have thrown some shade on Shanahan, too, since his vaunted, signature running game was blocked up like frozen water pipes. The sluggish running attack kept putting Garoppolo in must-pass third-down situations, allowing the Packers to tee off of the not-so-mobile quarterback.

And Shanahan called that sideline pass that was intercepted, even though that’s a Garoppolo weakness, even when his passing shoulder and hand aren’t compromised. And Shanahan called another one of those in the third quarter.

A ghastly first half it was for Garoppolo and his non-supporting cast.

The 49ers’ first five drives ended in a sack, a sack, a dropped pass, a sack and an interception on a sideline pass Garoppolo sailed to the far right corner of the end zone like a paper moon. It prevented the 49ers from cutting into the Packers’ 7-0 lead. Get this guy out of here!

When Garoppolo took a sack in the third quarter on 3rd-and-5, that made it four sacks on third down.

Now what can you say about Garoppolo? His record as a starting quarterback for the 49ers over five seasons is now 35-15, including wins in four of the five playoff games. The only playoff loss was that Super Bowl thing two seasons ago. Some folks remember that one.

But with Garoppolo, stats tend to be meaningless. His 57.1 passer rating Saturday was the lowest for a quarterback in a road playoff win since 2011, when Aaron Rodgers put up a 55.4 in a Green Bay win.

You can say Garoppolo is the poster guy for resilience. The beat-up passing arm, the abuse he takes from the mob, he has become somewhat of a character out of Dickens or Shakespeare.

The story continues. Shanahan once again resisted the cries of the mob Saturday and stuck with his guy, the quarterback Shanahan originally turned into a lame duck, but has treated like a prince, and has been repaid nicely, so far.

Whatever happens next week, Jimmy Garoppolo will never buy another drink the rest of his life, as long as Kyle Shanahan is in the house.

Scott Ostler is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: sostler@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @scottostler

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