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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo says 49ers played best game against Cardinals but still have ‘a long way to go’

Nov 21, 2022 at 11:04 PM--

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As good as the San Francisco 49ers played against the Arizona Cardinals Monday night, there's still room for them to get better, according to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

It's hard to find much fault with how the 49ers played in their 38-10 shellacking of the Cardinals at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. After fighting off a somewhat slow start, the 49ers rolled over the Cardinals on offense while the defense held them scoreless in the second half, marking the third consecutive week they've reached that feat against an opponent. It was a performance many had been waiting for from the 49ers after an inconsistent start to the season, and Garoppolo had one of his best outings of the year along the way, throwing for 228 yards and four touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing. But even though things seem to be coming together, Garoppolo says there's still quite a bit to work on in the weeks ahead, at least on offense.

"The past couple weeks we've been putting together some good games," Garoppolo told reporters after the game. "Today was probably our best full game that we've put together. But we've got a long way to go. There's some yards we left out there, even some points that we left out there. It's a nice thing that guys are still hungry."

The 49ers came out throwing the ball against the Cardinals and found a high degree of success doing so en route to 17 first-half points. They then went to a more run-heavy attack in the second half and wound up steamrolling the Cardinals defense while putting the game away. Everything worked on offense for the 49ers Monday, with all of the unit's top players chipping in with some major contributions.

"We kind of knew coming into this game these guys in the past have done that to us—came out with that six D-Lineman look. Once we saw that, we knew we had to pass a little bit," Garoppolo said. "We kind of got them out of that and that got our run game going. So it was really one of those pick-your-poison type of nights. They tried to take away the run and we passed it, and vice versa."

Adding to the challenge was the altitude of Estadio Azteca, which sits at 7,200 feet above sea level. Players from both teams were experiencing problems as a result of the altitude, but the 49ers, who prepared for the game by practicing at a higher altitude in Colorado Springs, wound up winning that battle.

"The altitude was real," Garoppolo said. "Guys were feeling it out there. You could see guys were sucking wind, cramping up a little bit. But I thought it did more good for us than them today."

Garoppolo's four touchdowns wound up being a record for games played in Mexico, according to a reporter who raised the topic after the game. But Garoppolo credited the players around him with helping to make that happen, from the skill players to the offensive line.

"I didn't know that, the four TDs and everything," Garoppolo said. "I thought guys were making plays all night though. Everyone was stepping up when their number was called. Guys stepped up and made plays. The O-Line gave me a ton of time, which always makes things easier. It was a good night."

The win put the 49ers at 6-4 for the season, tying them with the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West. They return home next week to host the New Orleans Saints, starting a stretch that sees them play five of their final seven games at Levi's Stadium. Whether or not the 49ers turn this momentum into another deep playoff run remains to be seen, but their performance on Monday gave them the feel of a team starting to approach their peak. Garoppolo thinks the 49ers defense is already at a level that they were at during the team's Super Bowl run in 2019, but he seems to think the offense has some work ahead of them in the weeks ahead in order to get to where they need to be.

"The defense reminded me of that year for sure," Garoppolo said. "Zero points in the second half of three straight games, that's pretty impressive. So definitely some resemblance there, but offensively we've got a little ways to go still. We left some meat on the bone there for sure."

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