Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

49ers vs. Broncos offensive grades: Jimmy Garoppolo struggles significantly in first start back

Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 27, 2022 at 11:00 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers suffered another head-scratching loss, this time on Sunday Night Football to the Denver Broncos in an 11-10 defeat where the defensive brilliance could not overcome the offensive woes for the former.

Here are the offensive grades for the 49ers in Week 3:

Quarterbacks: D

Jimmy Garoppolo had a porous performance and was undeniably the primary reason the San Francisco 49ers lost on Sunday.

Garoppolo proved that, despite his bold words of desiring freedom this week, he was the same quarterback that he's been since he began his tenure with the 49ers, continuing to make the same mistakes, while committing the most egregious error of his career on a play where he lost sight of where he was on the field, resulting in a safety.

Garoppolo continued to bypass open reads, misfire on throws, lock onto receivers, and display an inability to read defenses and progressions consistently.

With Garoppolo, the issue hasn't necessarily been ability in Kyle Shanahan's offense, although he is limited as a quarterback, but rather consistently making the right reads and accurate throws. In five years with a similar system, that hasn't been achieved.

Looking into the specifics, Garoppolo missed two open screen passes, lost two touchdown opportunities to Deebo Samuel, and went 1/8 on third-down conversions, with two of his three completions on those plays coming well short of the first-down chains.

Going into the game, many 49ers fans shared the belief that Kyle Shanahan was holding Jimmy Garoppolo back over the past five years after the latter expressed a sense of freedom when explaining how coming in as the backup felt last weekend.

However, given how he's played over the past few years, and specifically on Sunday, nothing could be further from the truth. Shanahan consistently schemed deep and intermediate reads early in the progressions that were achievable throws for Garoppolo to complete, yet; the 30-year-old quarterback either elected to bypass that read for a shorter throw or missed the pass attempt in regards to accuracy.

The 49ers have shown that they can make the playoffs with inconsistent play from Garoppolo in 2019 and 2021 due to an elite defense and stellar rushing attack, but if they want to repeat their success in 2022, Garoppolo will need to play better than his porous performance in Week 3 where he arguably lost the game for San Francisco with his own doing.

Running Backs: B+

Jeff Wilson Jr. led the charge for the 49ers once again, recording 12 carries for 75 yards, including a 37-yard breakaway and an 18-yard rush.

Wilson was efficient on the night and continued to run hard, while being decisive with his reads, which makes up for his supposed lack of physical attributes such as elite speed and power.

While those two rushes accounted for 55 of Wilson's 75 rushing yards, the running game, or lack of one, was more so a proponent of the 49ers' offensive line play, rather than poor decisions by the 49ers' running backs.

Jordan Mason had one carry for seven yards and seemed primed for another carry, but Jake Brendel and Jimmy Garoppolo had a miscommunication on a snap that led to a costly fumble near midfield.

I would've liked Kyle Shanahan to run the ball on some different second-and-long situations, given the good efficiency that the 49ers had on those plays, but when the running backs got opportunities and the offensive line did their job with the blocking assignments, San Francisco's halfbacks were able to make a positive impact on the grade.

Wilson did fumble on the last offensive snap for the 49ers, sealing the game for the Broncos, but had a strong game apart from that, which involved three receptions for 31 yards on three targets as well.

Kyle Juszczyk made a nice tip-toe 24-yard catch along the sidelines, which was his highlight of the game against a linebacker close in coverage. However, Juzczyk's blocking didn't appear to be up to far, as the fullback allowed a sack to Josey Jewell, while missing a few assignments in the running game.

Wide Receivers: A

This game was all about the wide receivers as head coach Kyle Shanahan consistently looked to scheme his wideouts open, using certain players as decoys, while exploiting the Broncos' aggressive defensive approach to dare Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball.

The wide receivers executed Shanahan's gameplan, running proper routes and consistently getting open for a chance to make plays, however; their impact was limited due to the deficiencies of the quarterback who missed open reads and misfired on several open passes that his head coach and pass-catchers created.

Deebo Samuel was a major threat in the receiving game, catching five passes for 73 yards on eight targets, and could've had an even better statistical night had Garoppolo properly hit him on both of his open deep routes along the sideline that could've gone for touchdowns.

However, Samuel was neutralized in the run game, which was a focus from the Denver defense, as the latter consistently stacked at least seven players in the box, making running lanes hard to create.

Shanahan responded by utilizing Samuel as a receiver out of the backfield, which placed him in coverage against linebackers at times, creating favorable matchups.

Brandon Aiyuk had the same volume as Deebo Samuel, but only had three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown, as the 2020 first-round receiver was covered tightly by top cornerback Patrick Surtain, while also being the unfortunate victim of several inaccurate throws from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Jauan Jennings had a couple of nice blocking plays, while running good routes, and nearly had a deep catch along the sidelines on yet another good playcall from Kyle Shanahan, but Garoppolo's pass floated on him, allowing the defender to hit the receiver as the ball had come in, forcing the former seventh-round selection to bobble the pass and end with a drop.

While the pass wasn't great due to the velocity and air time, Jennings has to catch that ball and didn't. That potential explosive grade brings the receiver grade down to an A.

Tight Ends: B+

George Kittle returned from his groin injury with four catches for 28 yards on five targets.

Kittle was primarily used as a short-level target for Jimmy Garoppolo, as the 49ers looked to their star tight end as one of the primary options when operating the quick game offensively.

Additionally, Kittle was a solid decoy, exploiting the Broncos' single-high coverage, leaving favorable one-on-one matchups across the board where the 49ers wanted to target their strong receiver core.

Both Kittle and Woerner made nice blocking plays as well, sustaining their value in this offense and earning the high B+ grade.

Offensive Line: C+

The offensive line wasn't necessarily bad in Week 3. In fact, they look as if they're continuing to improve as a group, especially alongside the interior with Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford.

However, the offensive line had an up-and-down week against the Denver Broncos, committing several penalties, including a false start and holding call against right guard Spencer Burford.

The penalties against the offensive line weren't necessarily common, but brutally hurt the 49ers' offense when they were called, especially on third-down situations that set up long conversions.

Jake Brendel had an up-and-down game, which involved a fumble from what appeared to be a miscommunication between him and the entire offense, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

The guards continue to possess intrigue, but had a few misses, especially in the running game, while Mike McGlinchey allowed a pressure due to not picking up a stunt that resulted in a Josey Jewell sack.

However, to make matters worse, the 49ers will be without star left tackle Trent Williams for a few weeks as he attempts to heal from a high-ankle sprain, meaning that swing tackle Colton McKivitz will likely take over.

2020 fifth-round pick Jaylon Moore was inserted ahead of McKivitz at first, but immediately gave up a sack, two pressures, and a run-whiff, while the latter had a cleaner performance.

The 49ers have worked with a backup tackle before, as replacement-level player Tom Compton started at right tackle for a significant portion of last season following McGlinchey's torn quad injury.

However, I believe the offensive line will continue to piece it together as they grow overall from a unit perspective, but losing Trent Williams isn't only a blow to the passing game, but also in sustaining the rushing attack.
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.

1 Comment

  • BigAl
    Wow. I think you are getting it. This is some of what I have been saying for years! Good job though. Serious. I was so bummed out that we really are back to JG, like the reality of it. So I didnt even pause and rewatch many things like I normally do. But it was obvious to me KS had some good things going there and a few times had Deebo matched up with a LB, coming out of the backfield. Of course JG butchered these oppurtunities which, frankly, Im used to at this point. In fact I am considering starting my own podcasts, I am so tired of all the false narratives out there. Many of them start by team reporters too, the ppl who should have a grasp on the game by now, and they dont. Thats why KS is like do yall even watch other teams because their lack of knowledge is glaring.
    Sep 27, 2022 at 9:59 PM


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