Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle on Jimmy Garoppolo: ‘I don’t bet against really good players’

Jan 29, 2020 at 7:15 AM--

Eight passes. That was Jimmy Garoppolo's workload against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Those eight passes, six of which were completed for 77 yards, weren't necessarily what ultimately won the game for the San Francisco 49ers. It was the team's punishing run game that racked up 285 total rushing yards that did it.

Still, they're those eight pass attempts by Jimmy Garoppolo that the quarterback's critics remember.

"Look, Kyle Shanahan was afraid to pass," they exclaimed.

"I told you Jimmy G couldn't be trusted to carry the team to a meaningful win," they shouted from their podcasts, television shows, or YouTube videos.

Kyle Shanahan believes the negative narrative about his quarterback is preposterous.

"I think its' really funny that people say that," Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday. "Does anyone notice how good we were running the ball? We weren't just running it to punt and try to win 3-0."

The 49ers found a weakness against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers and exploited it.

Players like Emmanuel Sanders and Joe Staley are getting tired of the questions about Garoppolo. It's absurd to them. They trust their quarterback.

Hearing the term "game manager" probably brings back memories of Alex Smith for 49ers fans. The label is being slapped on Garoppolo now. Tight end George Kittle was asked on Tuesday about the idea that Garoppolo can't win a shootout against someone like his Super Bowl LIV counterpart — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

"I think we won 48-46 in New Orleans," Kittle responded. "I think that classifies as a shootout. He had two back-to-back 3rd-and-16s to beat the Rams. I think he threw the ball pretty well against Seattle to clinch home-field advantage.

"So yeah, people can keep doubting him, I guess. I'm not going to. I don't bet against really good players."

Andy Reid isn't betting against Garoppolo either. The Chiefs head coach knows what the 49ers quarterback is capable of doing in a game.

"Jimmy's percentages, the passer rating over the last couple of years here, it's up there, in really every situation," Reid said. "So as well as they run the football, and as well as they make you honor every gap, every zone on the field, you can't slight the pass game either."

Kittle hopes to haul in a good amount of passes from Garoppolo on Sunday and help the 49ers emerge as Super Bowl champions. Actually, he's probably more looking forward to opening up lanes for his running backs because the tight end loves to block. Still, he, like his teammates, can't understand the negative narrative about Garoppolo.

"He's done nothing except for show up every single time we've asked him to," Kittle added. "I think he's 21-5 as a starter in the NFL. I think that's OK, as well. I don't know how you be much better than that.

"So, I think all he's done is play good football, and he just keeps doing it week in and week out."

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