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‘He’s a natural-born winner’: Emmanuel Sanders defends 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo

Apr 4, 2022 at 9:21 AM--

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Emmanuel Sanders doesn't understand the criticisms of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The NFL wide receiver played with Garoppolo for part of the 2019 season, helping the San Francisco 49ers reach Super Bowl LIV. Teammates have always praised the 49ers' veteran quarterback, even after the team drafted his successor in Trey Lance. Sanders, two years removed from the 49ers, is no different.

"I love Jimmy G," Sanders said on NFL Network's Good Morning Football. "This is a guy that I remember, going into games, I used to play with so much confidence because I knew that this guy is a winner. You go back and look at his win percentage, his win percentage is ridiculous. He's a natural-born winner. The moment he got to San Francisco, he started winning."

Garoppolo is 33-14 as a starter and 31-14 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. Sanders points to Garoppolo helping guide San Francisco to two NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl but understands that the team is making a business decision in trying to trade him.

"Do I think Jimmy G will be with the Niners?" Sanders continued. "I think Kyle Shanahan is sitting in a good place. He has a winning quarterback, but he also has his young guy. But he has to make a decision."

Sanders doesn't just see Garoppolo as a good quarterback that teams should want. The receiver adds, "He's a great quarterback, in my opinion."

Sanders keeps hearing about one play from Garoppolo's critics—a play in which he was a part. Niners fans know it well. It's the one that many critics point to while discussing Garoppolo's limitations—the missed fourth-quarter connection between Garoppolo and Sanders that likely would have sealed a San Francisco Super Bowl victory and championship.

Some will argue that it was an overthrow by the quarterback. Those defending Garoppolo will say that the receiver slowed down on the play. Sanders simply sees it as a missed opportunity.

"Some people walk up to me and say, 'Did you slow down on that play?'" Sanders shared. "I'm like, 'This is the biggest game in the world. You think I'm going to slow down on the ball?' But for me, I always look at that and I say, 'One play doesn't determine the outcome of a game.' There's plays that I probably could have blocked better. Plays that Deebo [Samuel] could have made, Kendrick Bourne could have made, plays where Raheem Mostert could have made. There's plays Nick Bosa wishes he could have back, George Kittle could have back.

"So for me, everyone is saying Jimmy G is the reason we lost the Super Bowl, I don't fall for that. ... Jimmy G isn't the reason we lost that Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers lost that game. We, as a team, lost that game. I don't like that they keep pounding that on Jimmy G."

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