Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young: 49ers find their dogs, Jimmy Garoppolo at his best

Nov 18, 2021 at 6:24 AM--

A week ago, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young wondered if the San Francisco 49ers had any dogs on the team. A conversation with a former teammate and another Hall of Fame player, Jerry Rice, led Young to ponder the question.

"There's no dogs," Rice told Young.

Of course, that was coming off an embarrassing loss to an injury-depleted Arizona Cardinals team. The quarterback turned ESPN analyst, like fans, saw a completely different squad on Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. It was a dominant performance that ended with a 31-10 upset win and Kyle Shanahan's fifth consecutive victory against the division rival.

"There were no dogs the week before. There were dogs on Monday night," Young declared this week on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks. "Defensively, that defense all of a sudden looked like they could compete. Jimmy on third down, really efficient, and we got the explosive running game. All the stuff that we said, 'Hey, if it's going to go, it's got to go like that.'

"And then they were just like, 'Oh, you mean like this?'

"'Yeah, like that.'"

Not only was there an abundance of dogs on the Levi's Stadium field on Monday night, but Young says, 'the whole kennel got out."

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel was one of the dogs. He had 133 all-purpose yards against the Rams. Safety Jimmie Ward was another. He twice intercepted Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, turning one into a pick-six and setting the tone for the night.

Another dog may have been Jimmy Garoppolo, who earned his highest Pro Football Focus grade (82.1) and highest passer rating (141.7) of the season.

"This is the best Jimmy, where he gets that explosive run game, and he comes off the play-action, and people are open, and that quick release," Young said. "The running game is knifing. His quick release is knifing. And all of a sudden there's a big play. Then there's third-down conversions. You know that's the money down in the NFL. That's where he's thriving.

"You're a really good player if you're thriving on third down in the NFL. I don't even care what else happens. Two places, right? There's third down and the red zone -- that's where all the veterans hang out."

Young was the only ESPN host to pick the 49ers during the pre-game show to win. That's because of what he saw as the team warmed up. He got a "great vibe" from Shanahan's squad. They did not feel like a 3-5 team.

Then Young went over to Garoppolo and felt a great energy from the 49ers quarterback. That made the decision to pick the Niners easy.

"So no matter how we feel about Jimmy, we talk about it ad nauseam," Young continued, "when he can rally like that, and come through, and answer the bell, all the metaphors you want to come up with, again, I say tip my cap, but it's more than that. I know how hard that is and the grit that takes."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.

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