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Pro Bowl Jimmy: 10 Reasons Why Garoppolo Will Make the Pro Bowl in 2020

Levin T. Black
Aug 19, 2020 at 5:00 AM


San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo gets as much criticism as any starting quarterback in the league. Don't mistake that, as many have done, for Garoppolo being a bad quarterback.

Most of the criticism comes from the national media. The players know the real Garoppolo though. Garoppolo was ranked the 43rd best overall player in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2020. The list is determined solely by players in the league. This year, 970 ballots were cast and 132 interviews with players were conducted.

Garoppolo played his first full season as a starter in 2019. He wasn't perfect. He threw too many interceptions. Still, the overall results were promising.

This season, Garoppolo will look to fulfill that promise and take the step up to the upper echelon of the NFL. Here are 10 reasons why Garoppolo will do just that en-route to his first Pro Bowl.

1. Kyle Shanahan


This one seems obvious so why not get it out of the way first? 49ers' coach Kyle Shanahan is an offensive genius. There's no other way to put it. He very well may be the best offensive mind in the game today.

A lot is made of Shanahan's ability to orchestrate a dominant rushing attack but the true master stroke comes in the passing game. The defense never knows what is coming.

Being the quarterback of a team coached by Shanahan gives Garoppolo an advantage.

2. Runway is clear, prepare Jet for take off


Running back Jerick 'Jet' McKinnon is healthy and by all reports, still the athletic freak who caused the 49ers to sign him prior to the 2018 season.

No one has been able to see what he can do in the 49ers offense due to injuries prior to the season each of the past two years. With him healthy, the Jet is about to take off and the 49ers passing game can reach new heights.

McKinnon is a passing game specialist as a running back. He is a polished route runner, capable of running advanced routes that few can at his position. This will open up options in the offense that didn't exist, at least to the degree they will, last year.

This will help the 49ers and Garoppolo succeed.

3. Top notch offensive tackles


Among qualified quarterbacks, only six got less time to throw last season than Garoppolo according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats. Injuries to the offensive line, and offensive tackle Joe Staley in particular, allowed opposing defensive lines to get to the quarterback.

The 49ers now have one of the top offensive tackle duos in the league. Trent Williams was acquired in a trade during the offseason to replace the retired Staley. As great as Staley was for the 49ers, most would argue Williams is better. It's certainly close.

Even if you consider them equals, however, Staley missed nine games last year so a healthy Williams will give the 49ers better production from the position.

His counterpart, Mike McGlinchey, hasn't been of the same caliber of either Staley or Williams but he's still a solid starter who is improving. Last year Pro Football Focus rated McGlinchey the 34th best overall tackle. The list included some players who didn't play more than half the season at the position like Staley or the 49ers' Daniel Brunskill.

Simply put, 64 players start at offensive tackle in the NFL and McGlinchey is among the top 30 with a good chance to be better in his third season.

Improved play at the position that typically blocks edge rushers will give Garoppolo the chance to hold the ball longer and find the open receiver.

4. Improved wide receiver play


Yes, wide receiver Deebo Samuel is currently injured and that will have an effect early in the season but he is expected to return in the first half of the year. Samuel came on strong at the end of his rookie season last year. He amassed 697 of his 961 total yards from scrimmage in the final eight games.

A seasoned Samuel will be added to a strong group of wide receivers. Shanahan recently praised Kendrick Bourne, saying he has improved every year and is the vet among the receivers.

Then there is rookie first round pick Brandon Aiyuk. The electric receiver was the talk of the first practices in training camp and defenders have raved about how much faster Aiyuk is than his timed 40-yard dash (4.5 seconds). He may be a rookie but Shanahan said that he is further along than normal rookie receivers.

Trent Taylor is still around too. He may have been replaced as Garoppolo's BFF (George Kittle) but he's still a receiver who could be valuable out of the slot.

Of course there's Dante Pettis as well. He was the star of Tuesday's padded practice. Take that for what you will.

With a more diverse and likely better overall wide receiver group, Garoppolo will have the options needed to make the Pro Bowl.

5. Fully Healthy


A year ago, Garoppolo was coming off a major knee injury. A year removed, his confidence, as well as his agility, will be improved.

Garoppolo has been wearing a knee brace in practice during training camp but said this week that it was purely precautionary and he has no limitations.

6. Defenses playing to stop the run


In 2019 the 49ers were second only to the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens in rushing yards. The 49ers led all teams with 23 rushing touchdowns. Adding to this was the 49ers absolute dominance running the ball in the NFC Championship Game when they compiled 285 yards on the ground.

Defenses in the NFL typically adjust to offenses better in the offseason. With all the time to study and figure things out, defenses will usually start a season by taking away what worked for their opponent the previous season.

Stopping a Shanahan team from running the ball is easier said than done but the 49ers will likely see more loaded boxes on early downs. Defenses must pick their poisons and, until proven not effective, opponents will want to make Garoppolo beat them.

Garoppolo is capable and given more opportunity, could become just the third 49ers quarterback to top 4,000 yards in a season along with Jeff Garcia and Steve Young. The team record of 4,278 yards, held by Garcia, seems very possible and setting that mark will help the narrative of Garoppolo deserving the Pro Bowl.

7. 49ers continue to win


The Pro Bowl, to some degree, is a popularity contest and winning makes one popular. The 49ers seem as likely as any team to win double-digit games. Doing so will add to the bandwagon. All those new fans will want to see the quarterback in the Pro Bowl.

8. Team continuity amidst COVID-19


The 49ers return nearly every starter from a year ago. Most players have multiple years with the team. In addition to the players, the coaching staff and the systems utilized on offense and defense remain virtually the same. This helps the 49ers.

No team wants to benefit from COVID-19 and the pandemic going on shouldn't be made light of. It is as serious of a situation as any ... but the 49ers are better equipped to deal with it.

Players and coaches aren't getting a preseason to tune up systems and gain valuable experience. They didn't get OTAs either. The 49ers needed those opportunities less than other teams.

With the team better prepared, look for the 49ers to take shots and test opposing secondaries. A few more long touchdowns than last year and Garoppolo would have a 30 touchdown season. Just four quarterbacks had 30-plus passing touchdowns last year.

9. Best tight ends in the league


The 49ers have the league's best tight end in the league in Kittle. With the addition of Jordan Reed the 49ers have the league's best tight end group top to bottom.

Reed remains one of the league's better receiving tight ends. Shanahan will likely look to use both together to keep the defenses guessing. With a defense not sure of what play is coming, Garoppolo could have an easier time picking it apart.

10. Already Pro Bowl caliber


All the talk about Garoppolo not being very good is overblown. He was tied for fifth with 27 passing touchdowns, fourth in completion percentage, eighth in quarterback rating, third in yards per attempt, tied for first in fourth quarter comebacks and tied for fourth in game winning drives.

Is that enough to say Garoppolo is already capable of having a Pro Bowl season? It wouldn't take much more than what he did last year. A few more opportunities, a few fewer interceptions and he's likely to be voted in.

Bonus: Why Garoppolo won't be in the Pro Bowl


He'll still have a game to play the following week.
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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