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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch identifies what Jimmy Garoppolo must improve for the 49ers to win it all

May 8, 2020 at 10:04 AM--

Last year, Jimmy Garoppolo had one of the best seasons ever for a San Francisco 49ers quarterback. In his first full NFL season as a starter, the quarterback's 3,978 passing yards ranks fourth-best in franchise history, behind only two others—Jeff Garcia and Steve Young.

Yet, it is his reduced production in the playoffs and his inability to hit a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders late in the Super Bowl that has seemingly defined Garoppolo's season.

The 49ers had a chance to pursue Tom Brady but realized that their long-term plan made more sense with the younger Garoppolo.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said last month that he doesn't believe we've seen Garoppolo at his best yet.

"Jimmy had a real good year last year," Shanahan said. "I expect him to continue to get better. I don't think he's achieved his ceiling yet. Last year was his first year ever going through a full season as a quarterback. He hadn't played longer than five games, I think, in a year prior to that."

General manager John Lynch spoke with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area this week and was asked where Garoppolo needs to improve for the 49ers to achieve their goal.

"I think taking care of the football," Lynch responded. "I mean, I think that's something."

Garoppolo threw 27 touchdowns last season but also tossed 13 interceptions to opposing defenses.

"But that's a fine line," Lynch continued. "Kyle doesn't teach guys to play safe. He wants them, as he says, to let it rip. So, being able to find that fine line where you continue to let it rip. But I think that's where that experience, just the playing time, having played a lot, will come to prove invaluable for him because you've seen things before, and you won't be fooled.

"We know that it will only get better. His physical skills are—I really believe—are elite. I believe they're extremely underrated. He's one of the great natural throwers in this league, I believe, and I'm just excited to see it continue to grow.

"He's got to put the work in. I think the thing that's so exciting is he knows that there's a ton of room for improvement, and he embraces that."

Garoppolo's 102.0 passer rating was the best by a 49ers starting quarterback in seven years, since Alex Smith in 2012. His 69.1 percent completion percentage was the best since Smith during the same season.

"He takes a lot of heat for a guy who had excellent numbers and brought his team to the Super Bowl last year," Lynch added.

You can listen to the entire conversation between Lynch below.

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