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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Culprit for the 49ers Crushing Loss in SB LIV is Jimmy Garoppolo

Levin T. Black
Feb 3, 2020 at 1:05 PM

It pains me to say this but the biggest culprit for the San Francisco 49ers' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV is the 49ers starting quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo had multiple chances late in the game to permanently silence his critics. He failed every time.

It is what it is. There's no sugar coating it. Receivers were open, the opportunities were there but the ball wasn't delivered. The 49ers should have won. All they needed was one typical scoring drive. It never came.

The 49ers were in the driver's seat following their second interception of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. They took over possession leading 20-10 with 11:57 remaining in the game. A touchdown drive ends it. Instead the offense goes five plays and punts.

On the ensuing possession the defensive dam began to break and the Chiefs scored making it 20-17. No matter. The offense is getting the ball back and will be able to put the game away with a TD or a long drive that takes practically all 6:13 remaining in the game. It didn't happen.

Instead the offense went three and out forcing a defense that had just given up an 83-yard touchdown drive no time to adjust. The 49ers' possession lasted just 1:03 in game time. The dam burst on the next drive as the Chiefs had figured something out and the defense couldn't adjust.

Still, the 49ers had been in this situation before and won. They were getting the ball with 2:44 left. Plenty of time for some Jimmy magic.

It started well. The 49ers gained 41 yards on the drive's first three plays. It was going to happen. Garoppolo was going to win the game and silence the doubters.

Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. Sack. That's how it all ended.

The third incompletion is the worst one, especially for Garoppolo. This is the play that will stay with me for years. This is the missed opportunity that should have been. This is the play wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders got behind both his primary defender and the safety. Garoppolo saw him and threw deep.

Garoppolo has an excellent deep ball with fantastic accuracy. Sanders comes into view and he's behind the defense. I, and countless others I'm sure, yell in excitement with the assumption it will be completed for the winning touchdown. It quickly faded as a second later it became apparent that it was not only incomplete but Garoppolo had overthrown Sanders by a hefty distance.

The game was 24-20 at that point and the missed throw ended the game for all intents and purposes as Garoppolo got engulfed on fourth down before anything could develop. The 49ers had collapsed and lost Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs had made the comeback the 49ers couldn't quite complete against the Baltimore Ravens seven years earlier.

Garoppolo, and the 49ers, had three drives to win the game. They combined for 49 yards, two punts, one turnover on downs and just 5:29 of possession time. Add in the last 49ers drive, which was two plays, zero yards and an interception, and it gets into laughable range.

Some want to blame head coach Kyle Shanahan's play calling. I don't. Shanahan wasn't great in this game but he called the plays that gave his team and his quarterback a high probability to win. Players got open. The ball never got to them. That falls on predominantly one person.

Garoppolo's fourth quarter statistics were three completions on 11 attempts, 36 yards, no touchdowns, one interception. Garoppolo's ESPN QBR was just 5.6 out of 100.

So what do the 49ers do from here? Nothing. I was a believer in Garoppolo before the game and remain so. He is not a Mahomes-, Tom Brady-, Drew Brees- or Peyton Manning-level quarterback. He has flashes of greatness but not consistently enough.

Garoppolo is a top 8-12 quarterback in the NFL at this moment. He can still be more. This was his first full year starting despite how long he's been in the league. There was brilliance. There were clutch plays (lead the league in fourth quarter comebacks). But there were too many mistakes too. He's an Eli Manning, Matt Ryan or, to use a reference 49ers fans know well, a Jeff Garcia.

Those names are not to say he has a style like theirs (Eli is similar though). It is to say he is of a similar talent. He can win big games, he can put up super star numbers in spurts but will also make a mistake that the truly elite quarterbacks don't.

Simply put, Garoppolo had the worst fourth quarter he could possibly have had in the worst game he could possibly have had it, but he's good enough to lead a team back to that stage. The 49ers can win a Super Bowl with him as the quarterback.

Until he does, the doubters aren't going to be silent. It is what it is.
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.


  • Brandon S
    Blame Saleh! It was Saleh's fault! https://ftw.usatoday.com/2020/02/2020-super-bowl-san-francisco-49ers-collapse-kyle-shanahan-robert-saleh
    Feb 10, 2020 at 1:56 PM
  • CorvaNinerFan
    I agree...but only to a point. I blame Shanahan for not trying to get more points on the board with almost 3 mins and 3 TO's in the 1st half. Coach also stopped feeding Mostert the rock when he was smokin' hot. In addition, why didn't Coach call some roll outs for Jimmy when it was clear his OL couldn't stop the pass rush late in the 4th qtr.. Jimmy missed a wide open Sanders...that's on him.
    Feb 8, 2020 at 11:07 PM
  • Max
    Niners and garappolo suck. Lucky to not lose by 30. They have not paid their dues. Chiefs next dynasty. Hail to the chiefs. Respect them always
    Feb 8, 2020 at 8:04 PM
  • Kaycee Mizza
    "Revenge 2020 Tour" my behind! Even if the 49ers get to Super Bowl 55, Mahomes and the Chiefs will kick their butts again, or Jackson and the Ravens. 49ers are inferior to both teams LOL!!! Facts!
    Feb 6, 2020 at 3:25 PM
  • robert bramson
    it was the one big play to tyreek hill that started the downward slide.. 3rd and 15 ,mahomes connects for 44..a few plays later, score..given what Patrick did in the 4th qtr. with only 7 minutes , the niners are lucky they stayed in it as long as they did..excelllent article.. the truth hurts..garropolo lost this one by himself..lets give credit to chiefs d..made s.f. look weak
    Feb 6, 2020 at 12:11 PM
  • werewuf
    Another idiot who doesn't know football giving an opinion that is worth nothing......
    Feb 5, 2020 at 4:30 PM
  • Tayesha Boltin
    Yeah with less than 11 minutes left in the game, the 49ers offense and defense said in unison "Yo yo yo let's stop playing offense and defense and let the Chiefs win!" Losers!!!
    Feb 5, 2020 at 2:37 PM
  • CoachT
    Jimmy G was concussed late in that game, I saw it in his eyes after the crown helmet hit to his jaw the refs didn't call. The officiating keeping the queefs in the game is what cost the 49ers, NOT JIMMY G. F'in morons...open your f'in eyes...watch this although you might have to turn down the volume, the narration is slightly unprofessional.... https://youtu.be/q8KBD2IK_CM the queefs were helped ALL YEAR to get there and win it! The NFL is no longer a competitive league, it's own re-classification is now "Sports Entertainment" just like the WWE....and we all know how legit that is don't we? The NFL just lost my viewership and support. If any of you have half a brain, you'll follow suit, because you are only supporting the mirage that is professional sports. It's beholden to gamblers and gangsters and advertisers, NOT fans. WAKE UP!
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:55 AM
  • CoachT
    Jimmy G was concussed late in that game, I saw it in his eyes after the crown helmet hit to his jaw the refs didn't call. The officiating keeping the queefs in the game is what cost the 49ers, NOT JIMMY G. F'in morons...open your f'in eyes...watch this although you might have to turn down the volume, the narration is slightly unprofessional.... https://youtu.be/q8KBD2IK_CM
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:48 AM
  • Jasmine Treet
    Kyle Shanahan you choke artist! Perennial Super Bowl loser! You and Can't-Hit-It-Right Garoppolo suck!! Losers!! You too Saleh and your loser incompetent CBs and Safeties!!
    Feb 5, 2020 at 12:32 AM
  • TL Cash
    You can blame anyone you want, QB, coaches, refs. But the bottom line is that it was the Chiefs time and not the Niners time. Several things fell into place including bad ref calls and missed opportunities in the last 6.5 minutes of the game that went the Chiefs way. If any one of those things didn't go the chiefs way the Niners would have won. Not to mention the fact that all year the Niners had better breaks and always were able to find a way to win. Don't worry they will be back. As Kittle said next year will be the revenge year.
    Feb 4, 2020 at 4:02 PM
  • lumenatti
    Complete bullshit. Frank Clark is a wife beating sub human shit slag mogoloid retarded cunthole bitch. And they rigged it, to keep the whiney coons happy during a contract year. They gave them all the calls to catch them up and hand them the lead, then had the nerve to not call holding as Shanahan predicted. #NFL = #niggerriggedfuckinglarp
    Feb 4, 2020 at 12:26 PM
  • CallTheKittleBlack
    It shouldn't have come down to the fourth quarter. The coaches are to blame here. All season long, Kyle is content with wasting time before the half instead of running the two minute drill to eat away the other team's morale. And Saleh has been riding the talent of the defense, with no creativity outside of dropping his best pass rusher into coverage. You can't rely on a 4 man rush in a 16 game season, much less going deep into the playoffs. They just get burnt out. The good news is, the coaches are still relatively inexperienced, and CAN get better. But right now, they're not good enough.
    Feb 4, 2020 at 7:53 AM
  • piztol
    Do ppl not inderstand its Jimmys first full season and SB and he will only get better, much better by next year and yeah he needs to work on some stuff like all young players with little playoff experience but he needs to learn to slide in the pocket and feel the rush and where to step up for lanes because batted balls is a big problem of his. I think Kyle needs to get some more speed at wr and open up the passing game because jimmy can be Brees or Brady if he gets the weapons and freedom to cut loose. He had a good year and i blame Kyle being too conservative in the end of the half because we had 2min and 3timeouts but he pretty much sat on it till there was 25 secs left and chose to throw, but if you notice every time he has a lead or tied, even down he never tries to score at the end of the halfs when he clearly has opportunities and against KC you need every damn point you can get and he just accepted a tie at 10pts for some dumb reason and ill never understand why he doesnt go for points in those situations... he coaches too scared and to not lose rather than win. Anyway were set up for the next decade and will be back in the SB for sure but need to bolster the secondary.
    Feb 3, 2020 at 10:17 PM
  • Daniel Rouan
    ED. Stop it. At some point you need to hold others accountable. He is paid 137 million bucks. With that comes the expectation of consistency. A true real franchise qb simply does not perform this badly. He is at very best an average game manager. The issue is he is not a consistent one. Even a game manager like Alex Smith would have performed better in this game. The truth is he choked. With all that said i blame Kyle more. The whole year we were a strong run offense. Amazing even. In this very game were were averging 6 ypc. 6! And once were were ahead by ten what do we do? Abandon the run. Now thats on the coach. Also, after the game kyle said he was comfortable going into the half tied at 10! Wtf?! He had all his TOs and almost teo minutes left. He coached scared let the clock run out as he was worried about what the other team ‘might’ do if they got the ball back. You do not win without a killer instinct and you dont win by allowing the other team to dictate how you call plays. You talk about a lack of understanding the game but yet many commentators who have played said the same
    Feb 3, 2020 at 3:50 PM
  • Ed
    I have heard some low hanging fruits criticisms and this is one of the best. To say that Jimmy is the reason we lost shows the lack of football acumen you have. Certainly it shows the lack of football understanding and how it is played. He played well and out performed the darling child for most of the game. He wasn't the one who gave away the 10 point we had. It isn't fashionable these days to say we gave it all we had and we came up a little short. Instead it is important to find someone to blame. What a great example for our children
    Feb 3, 2020 at 3:06 PM

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