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Why 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is better than you think

Al Sacco
Jan 22, 2020 at 8:47 AM1


In many ways, the Super Bowl is the biggest media event of the year. With all the attention that gets paid to the game and the teams participating, it's no surprise that everyone seems to have an opinion or a "hot take" to bring some attention to himself or herself.

One of the narratives that's currently floating around is that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is some kind of a game manager who's just along for the ride. Garoppolo's detractors are pointing to the fact that he's only attempted 27 passes this postseason, and that his lack of opportunities has something to do with head coach Kyle Shanahan game planning around his signal caller.

While the idea of Garoppolo being a liability is gaining steam with the misinformed, anyone who's actually seen him play this year would know that's not the case. In fact, Garoppolo's been everything the 49ers have needed and more in 2019.

First of all, if you look at what he's done on the surface, the numbers were some of the best in the NFL. His 3,978 passing yards were the 12th most in the league and the fourth highest total for a Niners quarterback in franchise history. Garoppolo also finished tied for fifth with 27 touchdowns passes, and his 8.4 yards per attempt put him second overall.

At 69.1%, Garoppolo's completion rate was the fourth best, and is even more impressive when you consider that the 49ers had the third highest drop rate of any team (6%). He was also fourth in on-target throws at 80.7%.

But to really appreciate what Garoppolo's brought to the table, you'd have to look at his performance when his team needed him the most. When San Francisco was trailing, Garoppolo completed 73% of his throws at 9.1 yards per attempt. He threw 11 of his 27 touchdown passes rallying from behind, and posted a rating 115.7.

In the fourth quarter of games, Garoppolo was able to hit on 70% of his attempts and averaged 8.33 yards per throw. He connected on six touchdowns to only one interception, and was rated at 107.1. In turn, it's no surprise that no other quarterback posted more fourth quarterback comebacks (four), and only Russell Wilson, Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson engineered more game winning drives.

And what about that vaunted running game helping him out? Well, in Weeks 9-11, the 49ers struggled to run the ball to the tune of 2.8 yards per carry over that three game stretch. Garoppolo responded by throwing for a total of 989 yards and nine touchdowns to help carry his team. San Francisco went 2-1, and was a missed field goal away from winning all three contests. And winning is something we've become accustomed to with this particular player, isn't it?

As good of a coach as Shanahan is, he's 4-20 without Garoppolo as his starting quarterback and 21-5 with him. The two are a perfect pair for each other and there's no denying the impact Garoppolo has. Shanahan's 49ers have averaged 29 points in the 26 games Garoppolo's been the starter, and 19 points in the 24 games with Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens behind center.

Is Garoppolo a perfect quarterback? No, he's certainly still learning in a lot of ways and is prone to throwing the occasional "what was he thinking?" pass. But those flaws don't take away from the fact that in less than two full seasons as a starter, Garoppolo's turned into an accurate, clutch, Pro Bowl caliber quarterback who's one game away from a Super Bowl title.
The views 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

  • Phillip Y
    Another thing I found amazing from Dan Orlovsky's interview on Murph and Mac KNBR this week was that Jimmy G's only career loss that was bigger than 8 points was the game he exited in KC. In other words he has never finished a game and lost by more than one TD ????
    Jan 23, 2020 at 8:20 AM
    0

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