Around the NFL: 49ers Lose Garoppolo, Harbaugh Shoots Down “That Time of the Year” NFL Return Talk, Bye Bye Baker, More

‘Tis the season for Christmas caroling, holiday dinners, and Jim Harbaugh to the NFL rumors, but this time, Harbaugh himself is putting the recurring song and dance to bed.

Plus, Mr. Irrelevant takes over for Jimmy G, Joe Cool and the Bengals top the Chiefs, Dallas throttled Indy on SNF, A.J. Brown got his revenge, and more in a packed Around the NFL this morning.

49ers Lose Jimmy G for the Season

San Francisco-Miami was one of the more intriguing games this week heading into Sunday. Miami needed a win to keep pace with the Bills for the top spot in the AFC East after Buffalo beat New England on Thursday night. San Francisco came into the game winners of four straight, with their last loss coming on October 30 against the Rams.

The game lived up to the billing, and the 49ers got their fifth straight win to move to an NFC West-leading 8-4, but the cost was significant. On the game’s opening drive, Jerome Baker and Jaelan Phillips sacked Jimmy Garoppolo, and Garoppolo’s ankle was caught awkwardly under Phillps as he went to the ground.

Garoppolo was replaced by backup Brock Purdy, who helped the 49ers beat the Dolphins 33-17 on Sunday, completing 25-of-37 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Purdy was pumped after throwing his first career touchdown in front of the Levi’s Stadium crowd, and for a good reason; Purdy was the last pick of the NFL Draft last spring.

Mr. Irrelevant has now gone from the last pick in the draft to the starting quarterback on a potential playoff team after 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan delivered the news that Garoppolo will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot suffered in that first quarter sack.

“Just hearing it, it’s pretty crushing,” Shanahan said after the game. “We know what Jimmy’s been through, how hard he’s worked at this. I got that news in the second quarter, so it was a little different for me, even with how happy we were with that game.”

Garoppolo’s newest teammate, Christian McCaffrey, said that the loss of Garoppolo “sucks” and praised his leadership skills that have been on display in the short time that McCaffrey has been in San Francisco.

“I haven’t been around here [San Francisco] a long time, but I can’t say enough good things about him … it really sucks.”

Purdy and the 49ers lead the NFC West by a game over Seattle and play the Buccaneers at home next week before heading to Seattle on Thursday Night Football in Week 15 for what should be a big game that will have huge playoff seeding implications.

Bye Bye Baker

Whelp… that was quite the ride.

After just seven games in a Carolina Panthers uniform, Baker Mayfield is being released by the team, according to Ian Rapoport. Mayfield has missed time this season due to injury and being benched most recently.

After Sam Darnold started the Panthers’ Week 12 victory over the Denver Broncos and led the Panthers to a win — albeit against the Broncos — the Panthers have decided to stick with Darnold coming out of the bye week.

Mayfield completed just 57 percent of his passes this season and threw for 1,313 yards, six touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 74.4 passer rating.

Hey, maybe the 49ers could use a backup for Brock Purdy for the rest of the season?

Welcome Back to the Harbaugh Zone

For years now, there’s been a point in the NFL season — usually around the beginning of December — when Jim Harbaugh suddenly becomes the most significant potential hire in the impending NFL head coaching cycle.

Harbaugh’s camp plays coy every year about the possibility of a return to the NFL, usually to juice up his stock for an extension at Michigan, and then all the December keystrokes and chatter become nothing more than fodder after he stays in Ann Arbor.

Last year Harbaugh went as far as interviewing with the Minnesota Vikings for their head coaching vacancy. The Vikings ended up going with Kevin O’Connell, and Harbaugh stayed at Michigan — again. This time, the posturing netted Harbaugh a five-year, $36.7 million extension with the Wolverines, which in my opinion was always his end game when it came to a flirtation with an NFL return.

Like clockwork, the first Sunday in December featured an Ian Rapoport story once again linking Harbaugh to potential NFL jobs, but only because “sources say multiple NFL teams have been doing background work recently on Harbaugh.”

Naturally, that was followed by a column at The Athletic by Bob Kravitz, in which Kravitz called Harbaugh the ultimate must-hire for the Colts this offseason.

Insert audible fart noise, here.

I’m not doing this again for the next two and a half months. Harbaugh is making over $7 million a year to have total control over everything in Ann Arbor — his alma mater who are in the College Football Playoff for a second straight season — and he said after his dance with the Vikings last season that he was shutting the door on the NFL. And, if he was still struggling to beat Ohio State, these rumors might have some more juice. But Harbaugh’s Wolverines have now won two in a row against their hated rivals.

Sure, topping Harbaugh’s $7 million AAV would only put him in the top 10-12 paid head coaches in the NFL, but again, Harbaugh himself said it wasn’t happening last year.

“Sure, the Super Bowl is the greatest prize in our sport,” Harbaugh said. “But winning a national championship, that’s pretty darn great. Let’s do that.

“There was a pull to the NFL because I got that close to the Super Bowl, but this was the time (to try and return.) And this is the last time. Now let’s go chase college football’s greatest prize.”

Harbaugh doubled down on Sunday by telling reporters on a Fiesta Bowl teleconference that he’s returning to Michigan in 2023:

“A lot of that-time-of-year type of speculation,” Harbaugh said of the rumors. “No man knows the future, but I think that people that think we’ve done a good job and are pleased with the job that we’ve done here at Michigan are gonna be very happy to learn that I’ll be back enthusiastically coaching the Wolverines in 2023. And those people that don’t approve of the job we’ve done and would rather see somebody else coaching here, I think they’ll be most likely disappointed to learn that I’ll be back coaching the Wolverines in 2023.”

As Harbaugh said, it’s that time of the year, so I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the reports to the contrary, but for now, Harbaugh has put that notion to rest himself.

Extra Points

  • Joe Burrow and the Bengals seem to have the Kansas City Chiefs’ number these days. Cincinnati topped the Chiefs again in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship.
  • Burrow’s fourth-quarter touchdown throw to Chris Evans put the Bengals on top for good in this one, and Burrow finished the afternoon with 286 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions as the Bengals beat the Cheifs 27-24 to move to 8-4. Their fourth straight victory moved them into a tie atop the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens heading into Week 14.
  • Speaking of the Ravens, they narrowly topped the struggling Broncos 10-9 on Sunday but lost Lamar Jackson to an injury during the first quarter when Jonathan Cooper sacked him. Tyler Huntley played the rest of the game for the Ravens, and coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that Jackson has a knee injury that he doesn’t believe is a season-ending injury.
  • NFL on FOX’s resident doc believes that Jackson could miss anywhere from 1-3 weeks purely based on what he saw on the video, speculating that there might be a PCL sprain.
  • Deshaun Watson completed just 12 of his 22 passing attempts for 131 yards with one interception, resulting in a 53.4 passer rating in his return to action. However, the Browns still picked up a 27-14 win over the Texans on Sunday without even scoring an offensive touchdown.
  • A.J. Brown balled out in his revenge game against the Tennessee Titans, hauling in eight passes for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles blasted Tennessee and moved to 11-1 on the season.
  • Sunday Night Football was a laugher as the Cowboys throttled the Colts in primetime, scoring 33 points in the fourth quarter alone. Maybe the Colts do need Harbaugh after all …
  • Last night, the NFL allowed SNF to be streamed on the Caesars Sportsbook app, a significant milestone in the NFL-sports betting relationship dynamic.
  • written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

    more bears news

    I Love This Rome Odunze Quote About Learning

    The folks over at Bears Wire got an opportunity to go one-on-one with rookie wide receiver Rome Odunze. In a wide-ranging conversation that touched on everything from his draft-night experience, early impressions on Caleb Williams, and the "Call of Duty:...

    Here Are Some New Caleb Williams Highlights From Bears OTAs to Peruse

    If you've been wondering "where's my Caleb Williams content from OTAs?" while watching teams around the league showcase sizzle reels, take a chill pill. The Chicago Bears have you covered with some snippets from this week's offseason training activities at...

    What About Calais Campbell as a Late Spring Bears Free Agent Fit?

    In his latest Q&A installment, the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs fields a question about Calais Campbell as a possible player who could interest the Chicago Bears as a free agent. And while I hadn't considered Campbell to be a Bears...

    Pittsburgh Will Host the 2026 NFL Draft

    The NFL announced this afternoon that the 2026 NFL Draft will be held in Pittsburgh. The announcement was part of the day's activities at the annual NFL Spring League Meeting in Nashville. https://twitter.com/steelers/status/1793302266381840827 The event will take place in Pittsburgh...

    New OL Shuffle, Fields Update, Rodgers Speaks, Taylor Swift and NFL Schedules, and Other Bears Bullets

    Allergies are really kicking my butt this week. Anyone else having that issue? It can't be just me... Sure, Russell Wilson has the inside track on being the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting at quarterback. But former Chicago Bears signal caller Justin...

    Around the NFL: Must-Watch Games, Early OTA Impressions, Dolphins Training Camp Plans, More

    Must-watch games, early OTA impressions, and the Dolphin's plans for training camp. That and more in today's NFL Notes. Must Watch NFL Games in 2024 The Athletic's staff put together a list of every team's most watchable matchup this season....

    Vic Fangio Got Sniped By One of His Ex-Players

    Vic Fangio is one of the most revered assistant coaches in football. Chicago Bears fans hold Fangio in high regards because of his time with the team from 2015-18. Fangio was the Bears' defensive coordinator under two different head coaches...

    Justin Fields Says Bears GM Ryan Poles Did Right By Him in Trade Talks

    Back in February, Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles was still in the midst of choosing between a clean quarterback slate with Caleb Williams and running it back with Justin Fields. At the time, Poles said he was hoping for...

    First Projections For Bears Rookies Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze Are OUT

    The early projections for NFL rookie leaders are out, via ESPN's Mike Clay. And when it comes to the leaderboard for passing and receiving yards, Chicago Bears fans will see some familiar faces. Caleb Williams projects to re-write the Bears...

    Must-Read: How the Bears Got a Head Start on the Caleb Williams Development Plan

    It sure looks like the Caleb Williams developmental plan is ahead of schedule. The MMQB's Albert Breer spoke with coaches Matt Eberflus, Dan Quinn, and Jerod Mayo β€” whose teams took quarterbacks with the first three picks in the 2024 NFL...

    Latest News

    Cade Horton Continues to Improve at Triple-A Iowa, and His Latest Start Was His Best

    I'd forgotten that, in addition to the talent and experience difference in jumping from Double-A competition to Triple-A competition, there are a couple logistical changes for players. First, there is the automated balls and strikes system (fully automated half the...

    Blue Jays vs. Tigers Probable Starting Pitchers – May 23

    Following a four-game losing streak, the Detroit Tigers (23-26) take on the Toronto Blue Jays (22-26) on Thursday at 6:40 PM ET.The Blue Jays will give the nod to Kevin Gausman (2-3, 4.89 ERA), who is eyeing win No. 3...

    What is a Same Game Parlay? A Look at the Popular Bet Type

    It has taken sports betting by storm in recent years thanks to sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel. We are talking about the same game parlay. Let's break down what the bet type is, how it works, and more as you...

    Kyle Hendricks Takes His Bullpen Demotion Like an Absolute Champ

    Is there a more model Major Leaguer or better example-setter than Kyle Hendricks? I really don't think so. Two days ago, the Cubs bounced the veteran right-hander from their starting rotation. It was a true demotion, as his general ineffectiveness...

    Best NBA Prop Bets Today – May 23, 2024

    Today's NBA playoff schedule has just one game -- the Indiana Pacers taking on the Boston Celtics.If you're interested in NBA prop bets for today's games, we're here to help. Below you'll find NBA player props for each and every...

    Props, Odds, and More for Celtics vs Pacers Game 2 Tonight

    Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA tips off tonight as the Indiana Pacers will look to bounce back from their Game 1 loss against the Boston Celtics and even up the series on the road. The...

    Athletics vs. Rockies Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Thursday, May 23, 2024

    The Oakland Athletics (20-31) host the Colorado Rockies (16-32) Thursday to close out a three-game series. The Athletics are favored (-146) to win the rubber match, which starts at 3:37 PM ET from Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.Joey Estes will get the...

    At Least Porter Hodge’s Debut Was Incredible

    There's not a whole lot you're gonna want to take away from last night's loss to the Atlanta Braves, outside of the first six innings from Justin Steele, which were actually pretty good (just pretend in your mind that he...

    Athletics vs. Rockies Probable Starting Pitchers – May 23

    The Oakland Athletics (20-31) have a home game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum against the Colorado Rockies (16-32) at 3:37 PM ET on Thursday.The Athletics will give the nod to Joey Estes (1-1, 9.35 ERA), who is eyeing win No. 2...

    NHL Playoffs Anytime Goalscorer Bets and Odds Today – May 23

    Anytime goal-scorer odds are available in this article, with just the one Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinals game on the NHL calendar Thursday.Watch the NHL on Fubo!Today's Top Anytime Goal OddsZach Hyman (Oilers) +100 to scoreOilers vs. StarsGame Time: 8:30 PM...

    more bears news