Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

Has Jimmy Garoppolo progressed since 2017? 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan weighs in

Sep 30, 2022 at 4:57 PM--

Kyle Shanahan doesn't believe Jimmy Garoppolo can carry the San Francisco 49ers alone. That's not necessarily a knock on the quarterback. The head coach would probably feel the same way about any signal-caller on the field.

Garoppolo made 178 pass attempts after the New England Patriots traded him to the 49ers in 2017. It felt like the quarterback used his arm much more once he hit the field. Garoppolo was impressive, and fans everywhere felt the Niners had their next great quarterback.

Things changed after that. Some of that is because the 49ers started to improve as a whole. Shanahan didn't ask Garoppolo to do as much compared to those five starts in 2017.

Shanahan joined KNBR after Friday's practice. The coach was asked if he believes Garoppolo has made progress since his first handful of games with the team in 2017.

"Jimmy came in and took over an 0-9 team, and we finished 6-10," Shanahan told Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland. "He came, we threw it more then. We didn't have as well of a running game, and we didn't have nearly as good of a defense. So we definitely threw it a lot more. It's also why we threw more picks, I feel like."

Garoppolo threw seven touchdowns compared to five interceptions in his late-2017 play. The 49ers were 5-0 during his starts.

"He came out the next year, and it was similar in those first couple of games because we kind of had a similar team," Shanahan continued. "It was going to be that way. Then he tore his ACL, and that year went that way.

"And then the next year, coming off the ACL, he was struggling in camp and stuff. He was still trying to get back from that, but you also could see that we had a different defense. And I remember going into the beginning of the year really playing to the defense. And we hadn't had a runner who had established himself yet, so trying to get that going, but you could see how good our defense was."

The 49ers started the 2019 season 8-0. Shanahan believes that Garoppolo starting to get healthy and playing well sparked the team's impressive run, ending with an appearance in Super Bowl 54. It wasn't just because of Garoppolo, though. The defense was playing lights-out football, and running back Raheem Mostert emerged as a potent weapon in the playoffs.

"I thought Jimmy carried us a lot through that year," Shanahan said. "He just didn't at the beginning. So when you look at him now, Jimmy's played a lot of football. I think he's so much better than when he started [with us]. But we've also got to play good around him. We've got to get him up to speed and make sure he's playing his best."

Garoppolo didn't practice or participate in meetings with his teammates this offseason because no one, including Garoppolo, expected the quarterback to be with the 49ers in 2022. Everyone felt he would be traded before the start of the season.

Having Garoppolo try to air out the football while he is still getting reacclimated with the offense probably isn't a recipe for success. That's why Shanahan is hoping the team finds a way to reestablish its rushing attack.

"Then, I also know it's a hell of a lot easier to play quarterback when we're doing everything else well, and that's what we've shown here," Shanahan said. "And that starts, to me, with running the ball. I don't think we've been bad at that. I still think we're sixth in the league in running the ball, but that's something that I don't think it's the right recipe for us to just give up on the run and say, 'Hey, we're going to win by just airing it out.'"

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.


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