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Jimmy Garoppolo admits departure from San Francisco stung, but QB looks toward future with Raiders

Jimmy Garoppolo didn't even get to his first preseason game with the Raiders before he was reminded of his old team.

They were on the opposite sideline of the Raiders' practice field, after all.

San Francisco and Las Vegas participated in joint practices ahead of their preseason opener Sunday in the desert, presenting an opportunity to ask Garoppolo about his departure from the 49ers. Specifically, he was asked about Kyle Shanahan's succinct response to whether there was any chance Garoppolo would return to the 49ers in 2023: "No, I don't see any scenario of that."

"I mean, we're all people," Garoppolo told the San Francisco Chronicle's Michael Silver. "You hear it, things like that. I just try to make the best of the situation. We've all been through hard things. In life, things are gonna happen that don't go your way, and you've just got to make the best of it.

"As the quarterback of a team, there are a lot of guys looking at you in that huddle. So, you really can't show that side of it. You've just got to go out there and ball. That's the part that's the hardest. But it's part of the job."

Garoppolo's time in San Francisco wasn't quite the product of storybooks, but did include some highlights. He helped the 49ers reach three NFC Championship Games and Super Bowl LIV, and from the time arrived until the final snap of the 2023 season, as long as he was available, San Francisco was a contender.

Unfortunately, he wasn't available often enough to justify keeping him through the end of his career. Garoppolo missed 31 possible regular-season games due to various injuries from 2018-2022, and San Francisco grew weary of his lack of availability, trading up to select Trey Lance with the third-overall pick of the 2021 draft.

Garoppolo's departure likely would have happened even sooner than it did, had the 49ers' succession plan followed its original route. But an injury to Lance in 2022 prompted the 49ers to turn back to Garoppolo, who proved he could still fulfill his role quite well before yet another injury forced San Francisco to look even further down its depth chart to rookie Brock Purdy.

What they found was their true replacement for Garoppolo, giving Shanahan confidence to make a definitive declaration on the veteran's future. It wasn't personal, just business.

"I think Jimmy was unbelievable for us," Shanahan said Thursday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "He won lots of games. I think that was a simple question. Is there a scenario where he'll be back here next year and I gave a common sense answer -- 'No.' I think that was a little overblown, on trying to be a shot at him or anything. We knew he wasn't going to be coming back from his standpoint or ours, financially and everything.

"I think he was the best quarterback here in about 20 years in Steve Young. Has an unbelievable record and every time he played and stayed healthy we were in the Super Bowl of the NFC Championship game."

Garoppolo admitted Thursday he may have been able to play a bigger part in San Francisco's run to the NFC title game last season, had he not pushed himself too hard in his return from the foot injury that cost him the remainder of the 2022 season. That led to a delayed start with the Raiders, but now that it's all behind him, he's in a better place with his new team.

"Sort of, yeah," Garoppolo said. "It was my choosing because I wanted to do something, because if the championship game did happen, I wanted to be out there. It's all in the past now. Things worked out the way they did, and I'm happy with how it all worked out."

That settles it. No hard feelings exist between Garoppolo and the 49ers. The veteran has a new job in Las Vegas, and fond memories to look back on from his days in the Bay Area. And as he explained Thursday, Shanahan's squad feels the same.

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