49ers’ Jimmy and George Are the New Joe and Dwight

Gilbert Brink
Aug 17, 2020 at 8:11 AM


The game of football is about chemistry. Without chemistry, a roster full of talented players becomes a collection of individual parts working independently towards uncommon goals. Quite frankly, it's a recipe for failure.

Today, the 49ers are one of the most revered franchises in American sports. This wasn't always the case. Prior to the arrival of a young QB from Notre Dame in 1979, the 49ers couldn't lay claim to any national glory. Established in 1946, the San Francisco 49ers were an also-ran for the majority of their existence. From 1946-1980 the 49ers only appeared in the NFL playoffs 4 times. It's hard to imagine this franchise being that irrelevant. Many current fans painfully recall the dark years of the early aughts, remembering that horrendous 9-year drought between playoff appearances (2002-2011). It's clear many of us have no idea how bad it could really be to be a 49ers fan.

1979 changed everything. That is the year the 49ers drafted both QB Joe Monatna and WR Dwight Clark. Neither player was touted as the savior of a franchise coming out of college. Montana was drafted in the 3rd round and Clark in the 10th. Both players emerged from modest beginnings, and both players would lead to the ascendancy of the 49ers dynasty.

The most iconic play of both of their careers was the beginning of that dynasty, and it was built off of chemistry. In Matt Maiocco's "Letter's to 87" (currently on sale at Amazon for $7.91, a must for any 49ers fan) Montana spoke fondly of their relationship: "We built chemistry on the field...As a quarterback, you need people you can trust to be on the same page. If he and I weren't on the same page 100 percent of the time, we were 99.9 percent of the time." As Clark soared through the air and snatched the ball in Candlestick Park on January 10th, 1982, that chemistry ingrained itself into NFL history and the dynasty began.

Last week the 49ers extended TE George Kittle with a 5-year contract, and QB Jimmy Garoppolo is on the books for the next 3 seasons as well. One of the first sights 49ers fans had of Garoppolo this summer was him strolling into training camp rocking a shirt with George Kittle's picture on it and chiding Kittle about being voted 7th in the top 100 NFL players list. Consider this one a receipt for the time Kittle wore a shirt featuring a shirtless Garoppolo after clinching a Super Bowl berth. Not to be outdone in the shirt war, Kittle donned a Garopplo/Kittle 2020 shirt following practice this weekend. These two just can't get enough of each other.

This is a pair any of us would gladly vote for. Like Joe, Jimmy has shown the ability to lead his team to a win in dramatic fashion. In 2019, he led the NFL in 4th quarter comebacks, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on 4 separate occasions. Garoppolo's composure is one of his greatest attributes. Even through a Super Bowl loss his confidence seems not to have been shaken. At one point during 2019 Garoppolo was posting an incredible 120.0 passer rating on the drive following an interception:


That unflappable nature is what inspires confidence from his teammates, coaches and the 49ers fanbase. Now we're all just waiting for him to detect John Candy in the endzone in Super Bowl 55 (well, maybe Gabriel Iglesias?).

Like Dwight, TE George Kittle would be the life of the party. While Jimmy is low key and composed, George is a cartoon character/super hero come to life. Character is the best word to describe George Kittle. Character as in, Kittle is a character, and character as in, Kittle displays character at all times. Whenever a teammate drops his head, Kittle is there to lift it up. As the time ran off the clock in Super Bowl 54, a dejected Kittle stood on the sideline and focused on the future when he said "I will be back here, and I will be back with a f---ing vengeance". Dwight Clark possessed the same spirit. In "Letter's to 87," Montana said, "What everyone loved about Dwight was his personality. Even if he had not caught that pass, his personality would not have changed. He was the same jovial guy before The Catch as he was after." The 49ers found Kittle the same way they found Clark. In 1979 head coach Bill Walsh was working out Clemson QB Steve Fuller and liked what he saw from Clark while catching his passes. In 2017, head coach Kyle Shanahan was working out Iowa QB C.J. Beathard and saw something in his tight end, George Kittle. What a find.

The 49ers have at least 3 more seasons of the Jimmy & George show. Whether it be chugging beers at WWE Smackdown or continuing their never-ending T-shirt war, their bond off the field will continue to strengthen their chemistry on it. That chemistry is infectious, and the entire 49ers offense will benefit from it for years to come.
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.


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