Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Donte Whitner breaks down 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s biggest weakness

Marc Adams
Oct 27, 2021 at 6:47 AM--

If you ask former San Francisco 49ers safety, Donte Whitner, a question, be prepared for the answer, because he doesn't hold back. Whitner was a guest on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks Show on Tuesday, and spoke on the 49ers current quarterback situation.

When asked about what he has been seeing in Jimmy Garoppolo, Whitner answered, "He's only looking for Deebo Samuel. And you better believe the defense understands that. When you lead the team significantly in targets, the defense is going to key in on that. That was what happened on that touchdown, that interception throw to Xavier Rhodes."

He is speaking of the play that sealed the 49ers fourth straight loss, on which Rhodes intercepted Garoppolo and almost ran it back for a touchdown. Whitner explained that the design of the play led Garoppolo to go to Samuel. But Garoppolo missed Mohamed Sanu, who was running wide open in the middle of the field. He said Garoppolo should have moved the safety, with his eyes and his mannerisms, toward Samuel and then hit Sanu. That didn't happen, and it turned into another turnover, Garoppolo's third of the game.

Whitner said that if you move the safety enough, you have a chance for a big play because the receiver can catch the ball, make a move and pick up more yardage, maybe even score a touchdown. Whitner added, "But with Jimmy Garoppolo panicking in these situations, no pressure in his face, he's forcing the ball to Deebo Samuel to the back side, you have three or four defenders back there, they pick it off and nearly run it back for a touchdown.

"That's the difference between top-tier quarterback play and what you're getting from Jimmy Garoppolo right now."

Whitner also said it's time for Trey Lance to play. The 49ers are already losing with the guy they are paying $100 million dollars, and he's not getting the job done. So if the team is already losing, and that quarterback is part of the reason, it's time to go to the rookie.

When asked what he sees as Garoppolo's primary weakness, Whitner answered, "Well every coverage has a weakness to it. Being a quarterback, you're supposed to know those weaknesses. Even in man, zone, you know the weaknesses of the coverage. You know what you need to do to buy time. You know what you need to do to make big plays and to connect with the receivers downfield and time it.

"And when I see Garoppolo, when he gets in the pocket, he understands the coverage, but he doesn't understand how to manipulate coverages, how to manipulate zones, the underneath, the deep, how to make guys bite on certain routes, because you want to put the ball somewhere else.

"That's the next level of quarterback play. Anybody can tell you, 'hey, this is the coverage, let's throw it here,' but ok, how do you maneuver and manipulate those underneath guys, so those safeties are sitting on those inside routes. How do you manipulate them to stop their feet, to throw the ball where you want to? That's what I think his weakness is."

Whitner referenced a deep throw to George Kittle against Green Bay, in which Garoppolo didn't manipulate the underneath coverage, or the Packers backside, and the result was an interception.

"That's the weakness with Jimmy. He knows where to go initially, but he doesn't how to manipulate the coverages with his eyes and mannerisms."

You can listen to the entire interview with Donte Whitner below.

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