Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


Jimmy Garoppolo Season Review Part 2: Under Pressure

Mar 25, 2018 at 2:07 PM


In part 1 of this series, which you can read here, we looked at quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's film for passing accuracy. In part 2 here, we look at Garoppolo under pressure.

In the first part of this series on Jimmy Garoppolo's season review, we looked at the quarterback's accuracy ranking and showed how and why he was one of the NFL's top passers in that department. This week, we'll look at how he performed under pressure and use the film to show how he was successful.

Before going any further, it's important to define what a quarterback under pressure is as it differs from the blitz. A quarterback can be under pressure from a three or four man rush as long as the defense forces him into a quick throw or moves him off his spot and forces him to escape the pocket. The blitz is easier to determine because it involves 5 or more rushers sent to sack the quarterback yet it also forces a quarterback to make quicker, more decisive decisions.

Garoppolo excelled at both. According to Pro Football Focus' Signature Stats, Garoppolo was only under pressure on 32.6% of his drop backs (31st in the NFL), but led the NFL in completion percentage (33-53, 62.3% completion), yards per attempt (8.3 YPA). He threw only 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions, though at least 2 of those interceptions were from receiver error. His biggest contribution was in moving the chains and keeping drives alive, so it's important not to focus solely on the 1 touchdown to 4 interceptions in that context and instead look at the overall picture.

Briefly, against the blitz, Garoppolo led the league in yards per attempt with 9.7 YPA and was second in completion percentage when faced with an extra rusher at 68.1%. Exact stats for completed passes to attempts against the blitz are unknown but he did post a 97.9 passer rating, which is 6 points above the league average against the blitz. Garoppolo against the blitz will be the subject of part 3 in this series. For now, we're going to look at the quarterback under pressure.

What made Garoppolo successful under pressure? Let's go to the film.

One of the true tests an up and coming quarterback will face heading into his first full season as a starter is the ability to mitigate pressure. 2018 will be a true test for Garoppolo in this regard. Can he repeat and/or sustain this efficiency over a 16 game season? It's worth noting he was perhaps at his best against two playoff teams last season, the Jaguars and Titans, while under pressure.

But let's look a few plays over the course of his 5 games as the starter.

Against the Bears in week 13, a prominent feature of the passing game was the "cross country dagger" passing concept.


The outside receiver runs a deep dig, and the inside receiver runs a deep post route or deep cross route to pull the middle of the defense away from the dig. Underneath, the fullback or running back runs a flat route.

In the second quarter, with the 49ers driving on 1st-and-10 at the Chicago 49-yard line, the 49ers lined up in 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end, two receivers) in a twins left I-formation. The Bears are in their base 3-4 defense with a cover 3 shell.


At the snap, the play action by Garoppolo draws up the middle linebackers, creating a void across the middle of the field. The fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, also pulls the weakside linebacker out into the flat. Defensive end Akiem Hicks (#96) beats right tackle Trent Brown (#77) as Brown stumbles forward over his feet, and also runs right through running back Carlos Hyde before hitting Garoppolo as he releases.



The play design almost ensures Garoppolo will be hit as the routes take time to develop. Yet he stands in there and delivers an accurate pass knowing he will take the hit.


Later in the same game, the 49ers line up again in 21 personnel. The play design is similar to the cross-country dagger above, but instead, the outside receiver will fake an in cut before cutting out to the sideline, and the inside receiver runs a curl route over the middle.


The Bears line up again in a cover 3 shell. And again, it is Hicks who beats Brown handily due to Brown's poor weight distribution and this time he has a clear run at Garoppolo.



Garoppolo sees the free runner and has no other option but to either take a sack or take chance into triple coverage. He does not even fully get a chance to wind up and throw the ball before getting hit and instead side-arms a pass around Hicks into triple coverage. Receiver Louis Murphy is the only player who see the ball though and settles in between 3 defenders to catch a pass in a tight-window.


On this next play, the 49ers line up in 11 personnel and to negate the quick blitzes and pressure, Shanahan often called quick slant route concepts, in this case, the double slant.


The left side of the formation is running the double slant concept and the right side, the eventual target for Garoppolo, are running a spacing concept variant. Titans defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau is known for exotic zone blitz and pressure rushes, and this game was no exception. The simple numbers and rush dictate pre-snap that Garoppolo is going to the right in the area vacated by the rushers.



At the snap, Garoppolo quickly looks left and sees the slant throwing lane closed and immediately looks back to the right to the spacing concept. At the same time, Zane Beadles, who is filling in at right tackle, gets beat to the inside by linebacker Erik Walden (#93). By the time Garoppolo gets to the top of his drop, Walden has already beaten Beadles and is closing in on Garoppolo. Walden gets to Garoppolo as soon as he releases but the quarterback's quick release allows him to get the ball out to Marquise Goodwin in man coverage. The pass is low and away from the trailing defender and allows Goodwin to get up field before being tackled.

The final play shows off Garoppolo's anticipation, poise, and pinpoint accuracy while under pressure with defenders in his face.


The 49ers line up in 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 receivers) to match up against the Jaguars' dime defense. They're running the levels concept to the right side of the formation as it is a favorite of Shanahan. Run out of an empty set, this gives the QB a high-low read with Celek on the deep dig and Hyde split out running the underneath shallow cross. This creates a natural pick for Hyde on the inside cut to beat man coverage on a middle-of-the-field throw.

On the opposite side of the formation, Garoppolo has the option of throwing the vertical-out route combination if there is no throw to the levels side.


After the snap, the Jaguars reveal they are in man coverage, and Hyde's defender immediately closes on him as Garoppolo looks his way. Garoppolo quickly comes back to Goodwin on the out route as Beadles gets tossed aside by Calais Campbell (#93).



Garoppolo's quick release allowed him to get the pass out before Goodwin even comes out of his break and puts it in a spot where he anticipates him to be with precision as he gets hit by multiple defenders.

In part 3 of this series, we'll look at Garoppolo against the blitz.

Jimmy Garoppolo Season Review Part 1: Accuracy.

All gifs and images courtesy of the NFL.
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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