Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Kyle Shahahan says QB Jimmy Garoppolo gets unfairly criticized for his arm strength

Jan 8, 2022 at 7:46 AM--

Not everyone is a believer in Jimmy Garoppolo's arm strength and his ability to throw the deep ball, but head coach Kyle Shanahan says Garoppolo stacks up in those areas favorably to any quarterback he's coached.

The topic came up during an interview with Shanahan this week with 49ers play-by-play radio announcer Greg Papa when Papa brought up rookie Trey Lance's strength in throwing deep, which was on display in his start against the Houston Texans last Sunday. Shanahan said Lance's deep ball ability "helps a ton" on offense but also said Garoppolo doesn't deserve some of the criticism he's been give in that area.

"I do think that's something Jimmy unfairly gets criticized for because Jimmy can throw the ball as far as anyone I've had," Shanahan said. "Some people act like Jimmy has a weak arm—that's just completely inaccurate. But we haven't hit a lot of deep balls—I understand that. That goes with all of us.

"But Trey, he has had a knack for it since we started watching him in college. He's got a good feel when to do it it, when not to do it. He's got some good touch on it and he definitely has arm strength. When you can get some of those bigger passes any week, it opens up everything and makes the more consistent easier ones pretty good."

The most notable example of Lance's deep ball prowess in the game against the Texans was a 45-yard touchdown pass that he completed to Deebo Samuel in the fourth quarter of the 23-7 win. Shanahan told Papa the play was identical to one Lance had similar success with in the preseason.

"It's a corner post," Shanahan said. "We do it off of our bootlegs. It's the same one Trent Sherfield caught in the preseason on Trey's first long touchdown. But we do a bootleg and they cut the crosser, and we run a corner post over the top of the safety. The only problem was when they cut the crosser, the corner replaced. So Deebo's going to run into that corner but then he crossed that corner's face. It's a good job by Trey being patient with it so we got the touchdown."

See the full interview below:

The 49ers have yet to announce which quarterback will start the regular season finale in Los Angeles against the Rams on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT, FOX) after Lance filled in for the injured Garoppolo last week. But it sounds like Garoppolo will be able to return from the thumb injury that he sustained against the Tennessee Titans on December 22 and kept him sidelined for the game against the Texans.

"I think he's much further along this week," Shanahan told Papa. "It's another week into it. It's gotten better. I know we're going to go down to the wire here with it, but I'm sure Jimmy's going to fight us on it. I think he's ready to compete, ready to go. I'm hoping it'll be alright."

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