NFC Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks


NBC Sports’ Peter King writes that anyone who is ready to write the ending to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo‘s story in San Francisco is doing so prematurely. He’s been told the 49ers have not decided how to handle their quarterback situation in 2022, which is the final year of Garoppolo’s deal and the second year of first-round QB Trey Lance‘s contract.

As soon as San Francisco traded multiple first-round picks to move up to take Lance, the expectation was that he would take over for Garoppolo at some point — whether it was before the end of the draft weekend or during training camp or by Week 1 or during the bye week or when Garoppolo got hurt. But at every turn, Garoppolo has held off the rookie and he has San Francisco at 7-6 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. 

“Jimmy’s one of my favorite people that I’ve ever coached,” 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s a hell of a dude. He’s not trying to hide anything. I also don’t want to downplay it and say this whole situation is just not a big deal. It’s a huge deal. Really hard on him. But he came in with the right mindset all the way back in OTAs. He hasn’t gotten sideways at all through any of it. No matter what he hears, he’s been the exact same guy I’ve known the four years prior, and that’s given us a chance to fight through this year. It’s given us the chance to be at where we’re at right now.”


The Cardinals enter Monday night’s game against the Rams at 10-2 — the best record in the NFL. The way they got there is fascinating, as Arizona has hit it big with a handful of risky decisions, most notably hiring HC Kliff Kingsbury and drafting QB Kyler Murray No. 1 overall in 2019. 

“Looking back at it now — hiring a fired college head coach, taking 5-foot-10 quarterback with the first pick — you should be in a straightjacket,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “But it’s a challenging business. If you don’t take the risk, I don’t think you’ll ever have the ultimate amount of success.”

“If this didn’t work,” Keim added to NBC Sports’ Peter King, “let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have been hired to coach my middle school son’s flag football team.” 

What pushed the Cardinals over the top in 2021 so far, aside from continued development from Murray and Kingsbury, was Keim’s gamble on aging players this offseason. He signed DE J.J. Watt, traded for C Rodney Hudson and added WR A.J. Green, K Matt Prater and RB James Conner after they were all cast off from their prior teams, whether it was for age, money or injury concerns. All of them have played key roles at different points this season. 

“[Keim has] done a tremendous job of locating guys late in their careers with something left to prove that come out here, like the nice weather, practicing on grass — all of that can kind of be rejuvenating,” Kingsbury said. “Guys that have done it at a high level, who are first class in all regards. That was a positive for our locker room.”


Rams LT Andrew Whitworth is on the verge of becoming the first 40-year-old to ever start a game at left tackle in NFL history, and he’s playing as well as he ever has despite a major knee injury last season. Whitworth admits he didn’t think he’d make it this far. When he was discussing signing with the Rams back in 2017, he and his wife both thought it would be his final contract. 

“I don’t know when exactly it happened, but eventually it became a goal of mine, to play at a good level at 40,” he said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “But it never really felt like it was tangible, possible. As I got closer and closer, I was attacking my work and my craft, and I could still play, and I was enjoying it. Then the injury last year happened, and I’m leaving the field on the cart thinking the chances of playing again were not great. People were like, you don’t come back from that injury and keep playing at 39.

“I’m stubborn. I don’t like being told what to do. I know people felt like it was the end for me, and so then I had to do it. I had to try to play again. It’s just like me and golf. People say you can’t be 6-7 and 330 and play golf well, and I’m like, I’ll show ‘em. I’ll prove ‘em wrong. Being stubborn, I’ve discovered, is a great motivator. So I’m not really shocked to be standing where I am. I do think, ‘Wow. This is insane.’ But shocked, no. I do think I’ll have some emotion about it on the field Monday night.”


  • Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny wasn’t satisfied with his performance versus the Texans: “To be honest, I’m not satisfied with how I played. Because I know what I can do and I’m pretty sure everybody else know what I can do. It was just all about standing on the field for me, and I’m just thankful I came out of this game injury-free.” (Curtis Crabtree)
  • Seahawks HC Pete Carroll said DT Bryan Mone will miss time with a knee injury. (Bob Condotta)

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