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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Jimmy G Reminded Me of Joe Cool

Jan 11, 2022 at 9:48 AM

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Despite all the hate, and all the doubters—myself included, Jimmy Garoppolo's performance and late-game heroics against the Los Angeles Rams has sent the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs for the second time in three years. Say what you want about Jimmy G, but his calm demeanor under pressure in the final minutes was exactly what Kyle Shanahan & Co. needed to secure the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs.

Let's travel back in time to the NFC Championship game, Jan 10, 1982. The NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys. Before he became arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, Joe Montana, in his third season—and first as a starter—was trailing "America's Team" 21-27 late in the 4th quarter. Bill Walsh dialed up "sprint right option", a play the 49ers scored with earlier in the game, hitting Freddie Solomon for the touchdown. This time quarterback Joe Cool rolled right, and in the face of three Cowboy defenders, including Ed "Too Tall" Jones, threw the ball to a leaping Dwight Clark in the back corner of the end zone at Candlestick Park. The throw was all the more impressive because it came after Montana had already thrown three interceptions that afternoon. If that wasn't hard enough to swallow, the 49ers had committed six total turnovers over the course of the game.

It didn't matter.

Against all doubters, Montana's magic sent the upstart 49ers to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

With the season on the line, a torn ligament and avulsion fracture of his right thumb, and after throwing two interceptions, Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers faced almost certain elimination from the playoffs with less than two minutes to go and no time outs. In fact, the 49ers were given a .4% chance for victory from Next Gen Stats at that point in the game. Instead of panicking, Jimmy Garoppolo led a drive that was near perfect. He completed four of his five passes, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings with 26 seconds remaining. Robbie Gould tied the game with the PAT and the defense sent the game to overtime.

Again Jimmy Garoppolo was asked to put the game on his shoulders and led a 12 play, 69-yard drive down to the Rams six-yard line, taking 7:15 off the clock. Robbie Gould came on to kick a go-ahead field goal, then the 49ers defense sealed the victory on an Ambry Thomas interception.

But the true hero was Garoppolo.

Jimmy Garoppolo is not Joe Montana, and his career totals will look nothing like Joe Cool.

However, for one amazing Sunday afternoon, in the face of all doubters, Jimmy Garoppolo showed that he can be counted on when it matters most, reminding all 49er fans what it felt like to have Joe Cool under center at least one more time.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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