‘They were top of the list’

Had things worked out differently this offseason, Jimmy Garoppolo might have been a Carolina Panther.

Instead, he’s slated to face the Panthers on Sunday – with the team no one thought he’d still be part of.

“Yeah. I think we were advancing with a couple different teams. Nothing, obviously came to fruition. They were top of the list, I would say, one of the top couple,” Garoppolo said Thursday when asked if things had advanced with the Panthers in terms of a potential trade in the offseason. “I’m glad things worked out. I’m here, so I’m focused on this stuff now.”

Garoppolo, of course, had limited options this offseason with a bloated contract and coming off shoulder surgery. The 49ers were happy to bring back Garoppolo as a backup quarterback on a reduced salary, and he’s now vaulted to QB1 status in San Francisco with Week 1 starter Trey Lance out for the season with an ankle injury.

But Garoppolo had eyes on some of the open QB jobs around the NFL this offseason. One that interested him was with the Panthers.

The Panthers instead pivoted to a trade with the Browns in early July for Baker Mayfield. Now Garoppolo and Mayfield will go head to head on opposite sides.

In three games this season, Garoppolo has completed 47 of 77 passes (61.0%) for 604 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and also has one rushing TD. In four starts with the Panthers, Mayfield has completed 64 of 117 passes (54.7%) for 747 yards, four TDs, three interceptions, and also has rushed for one score.

It’s fair to wonder how much better the 1-3 Panthers might be with Garoppolo at QB over Mayfield. On Sunday in Charlotte, Panthers coaches, players and fans will get a first-hand look at what might have been.

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