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49ers’ John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan believe a now-healthy Jimmy Garoppolo is ‘functioning at a high level’

Nov 19, 2021 at 11:41 AM--

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Maybe we won't see much of Trey Lance this season. That was, after all, the San Francisco 49ers' plan upon making the rookie quarterback the No. 3 overall pick in April's draft.

Garoppolo has earned his three highest overall Pro Football Focus grades this season (80.2, 79.6, 82.1) over the last three games. That comes after recording his lowest mark of the season (47.1) against the Indianapolis Colts. The lull from Week 2 to his recent hot streak led to fans advocating for more of Lance.

Over the past three weeks, Garoppolo's 109.8 passer rating leads all NFL quarterbacks. His 69.0 completion percentage ranks No. 4 during that span. His 80.2 adjusted completion percentage (completion percentage of aimed passes thrown on target) is second only to Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A healthy Garoppolo, who suffered a calf injury on October 3, looks like a quarterback determined to prevent Lance from overtaking him on the depth chart.

"Jimmy's such a dynamic thrower," 49ers general manager John Lynch said on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "And one thing I've learned over time, around him, he really needs his legs. He got hurt versus Seattle. He got that calf contusion, and I thought he was playing well before that. When that happened, he missed the time. But even when he came back (against the Colts), he just wasn't quite right. Now, when he's been healthy, he's played at a really high level this year."

After 40 pass attempts in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Garoppolo only made 19 on Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. The game plan didn't call for it. The 49ers ran the football 44 times, overpowering the division rival on the way to a 31-10 victory.

"A lot of quarterbacks aren't going to get too fired up when your coach says to the team, 'Hey, we want to run it 40 times,'" Lynch shared.

The 49ers, however, were fired up about the game plan. It was reminiscent of the 2019 team. And Garoppolo did what he needed, converting what Lynch calls the "money downs" (third and fourth downs) with relative ease.

"He didn't have a ton of opportunities, but when he did, he made them count," Lynch noted. "That's just his attitude. Whatever it takes to win, and I've always appreciated that about Jimmy. And he really is functioning at a high level."

This week, head coach Kyle Shanahan also praised the starting quarterback during his own interview on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show.

"He played a hell of a game," Shanahan said. "I think, Jimmy, the throws that we had him make were such big throws because you knew we were committed to running the ball and stuff, which, that only works if you're on it as a thrower and on it with your receivers and everything, and on it with your protection. Sometimes that's really tough to do when you don't give guys more opportunities.

"... But when the time was needed, Jimmy was on it. Made some big plays and some big throws, and it was reminiscent of '19, but I think that was more just from a team standpoint that that's how you want to do it. When you're kind of dominating someone defensively, at least from the score and stuff, keeping them out of the end zone, it allows us to be a little more patient. It allows us to stick with the run. And that only lasts if you're throwing the ball well on third down."

One play perfectly showed how the 49ers were firing on all cylinders. It came in the fourth quarter. On fourth down, Garoppolo hit the team's leading receiver, Deebo Samuel, for a 40-yard score, giving San Francisco a 31-7 lead.

"I thought that 4th-and-6 play was about as good as it gets in terms of the anticipation," Lynch said. "A lot of guys kind of pull that string. It's hard to let go on a fourth-down pass with so much on the line, and man, he just let it rip. And that was a beautiful throw to Deebo. Deebo, man, he was so good the other night. That was just a fun play to kind of [be] very symbolic of the effort we had the other night, that play, and Jimmy's effort, for sure."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

You can find the conversation with Shanahan below.

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