Fully aware that the phrase “the news from training camp” is the most idiotic of all idiots, the news from the training camp of the San Francisco 49ers is as good as it has been all year. Zach Wilson hurt his knee during Friday night’s slap-and-tickler with the Philadelphia Eagles and will miss about a month.
That’s always the only real news in a training camp – who got hurt and how bad it is. Oh, people like to pretend they can see trends and developments in every microscopic detail, but they’re usually full of whatever the neighbor’s cat just dropped into your pool. Anyone who tells you they learn things from practice matches are people you don’t want to drink with, even if they’re the ones with the open tab.
As for the Jets and 49ers, let’s put it this way. After a quiet pause of respect for the loss of their starting quarterback to the Jets, John Lynch, general manager of San Francisco/Shanahanian aide de camp, stood at 1-800-JOE-DOUGLAS and offered Jimmy Garoppolo as a new alternative to Joe Flacco. The selling point would be, “Robert Saleh used to work for us, and he’ll tell you what a great guy Jimmy is, and you need him more than that third round we want to get from you.” It’s kismet.
It’s also a bit of a lie, because the real selling point is, “We’ve been trying to move this guy since he recovered from his shoulder surgery because we think based on almost no evidence that Trey Lance is our future, whether in triumph or in disgrace. You can’t get that elusive sixth win with Flacco, and frankly neither with Wilson. We’re your ticket to 6–11—now let’s talk some turkey about us.”
That’s what a training camp is: illegitimate optimism and train cars full of frothy, upbeat talk with short episodes of catastrophic injuries. The Wilson knee isn’t catastrophic (it’s described as a non-contact bone bruise and a torn meniscus) as he’s not expected to miss more than one race unless he decides to rehab through motocross, but that doesn’t mean Lynch is. isn’t. t burning with the flame of optimism. Garoppolo has been unchanging since his shoulder surgery in March, and a story in the San Francisco Chronicle this week suggests that Garoppolo’s relationship with the midnight oil is fleeting at best, suggesting that despair may have turned to grumpiness. Not that “Hey, who wants our absent quarterback?” is a great selling point, but it does suggest that the 49ers are getting a little antsy. Sure, they can cut Garoppolo before they have to pay him, but that’s an accountant’s muse; the plan was to get something in return, either a human, future human or conceptual human.
And so, Zach Wilson. And if not Zach Wilson, then the next one to turn left when his knee wants to go right. There will still be some, no matter how hard the coaches try not to play key players in games that mean nothing but worthless television. Hell, maybe the quarterback that goes down is Lance, and then the 49ers can talk to themselves about Garoppolo. After all, they sold him as the man who took the team to a Super Bowl and an NFC title game, although the common wisdom is that the 49ers did more with defense and ball control. Who can know his worth better than the people who value him?
Anyway, there’s a game tonight (Vikings-Raiders, and the Vikings can’t lose Kirk Cousins tonight because he has COVID) and 32 more after that, and Shanahan and Lynch are living in hopes of someone else’s hopelessness. And that’s the news from the training camp: waiting for something to happen to someone.