Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports



When Joe Staley speaks, you listen. The veteran tackle has been with the San Francisco 49ers for 11 seasons since the team made him a first-round pick in 2007. Staley has anchored the left side of the offensive line since being moved to the spot in 2008.

Since then, he has seen a number of starting quarterbacks come and go. Names like Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, Colin Kaepernick, and Blaine Gabbert. So when Staley says there is something special about the 49ers' newest quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, you'd better listen.

"I've been around a long time, and I think Jimmy's really special at what he does," Staley told reporters after the 49ers' season-ending 34-13 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. "He's so unique too as a personality. He's very, very intense, very firey, but also very, very calm. It's pretty unique to have both traits.

"It's something you want as a quarterback too, guys super competitive like that but also just kind of gives a calmness about him in the huddle. No situation's too big. Just like I said earlier, I'm just really excited to build the team with him at the helm."

Garoppolo has now started seven NFL games and has won each of them, including his five this season with the 49ers. He had never thrown multiple interceptions at the pro level. That streak ended against the Rams.

Garoppolo doesn't necessarily see the mistakes as a bad thing.

"I think it could be a blessing in disguise learning from things like that," Garoppolo said of the interceptions. "I haven't thrown two picks like that in a long time so it will keep me motivated for sure."

Staley went on to give an example of Garoppolo's calmness and shared what it was like for the quarterback on the sideline following one of the interceptions.

"I will say this though," Staley said, "on the sideline after that play, (the interception) immediately was out of his mind. He was not deterred at all. It wasn't like he was sitting there bumming himself out about the interception. He was onto the next play. He just keeps doing little things like that that just prove to us that he's the guy."

The 49ers enter the offseason with the quarterback position answered – assuming a new deal is worked out with Garoppolo or the team uses the franchise tag. While Garoppolo knows next year's squad will likely look very different, he believes this year's strong finish can still carry into next season.

"Every year's a new year," Garoppolo said. "You get new players. You lose players. Every team's a different team than they were the year before. I've learned that just from being in the league for four years. Next year's team will have a different identity than this one did but ending the season how we did definitely helped us."

Garoppolo completed 20 of his 33 pass attempts for 292 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 84.4 against the Rams. He has completed over 60-percent of his passes in each of his seven career NFL starts. In 2017, only three quarterbacks with 100-or-more attempts have a higher completion percentage than Garoppolo (67.4-percent). They are Drew Brees (Saints), Case Keenum (Vikings), and Alex Smith (Chiefs).

Garoppolo's 1,542 passing yards through his first five starts with the 49ers are the most by a quarterback in franchise history in their first five starts with the team. The same total ranks fourth among all NFL quarterbacks in their first five starts. Only Drew Bledsoe (Bills), Trent Green (Rams), and Cam Newton (Panthers) had more.