Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


Gritty Jimmy’s Leadership Steers 49ers Through Disaster

Gilbert Brink
Sep 21, 2020 at 7:22 AM


Sure, it was just the Jets, but it meant everything.

The 49ers' best player, DE Nick Bosa, had just been carted off the field and the 49ers were staring down a season completely unraveling before their eyes. A hobbled Jimmy Garoppolo knew the 49ers needed him badly. The Jets had gotten away with a cheap shot on Garoppolo earlier in Sunday's game, diving at his knee, which might have caused 10 flags to fly if he were Drew Bress or Tom Brady. The answer from Garoppolo would be resilience, as he led the 49ers down the field on a 14-play 67-yard drive capped off with a touchdown pass to TE Jordan Reed. It was a much needed message from the franchise quarterback to his team: the 49ers aren't going to fold.

The limp was painfully present. With so many stars out, you were hoping for backup QB Nick Mullens to enter the game just to protect any semblance of a season that might be left for these 49ers. A gritty Garoppolo wasn't ready to bow out just yet. On the next drive, Garoppolo led another touchdown drive, this one lasting 13 plays and travelling 80 yards, ending in the same fashion as his last touchdown drive, with well-placed dart to TE Jordan Reed. Gritting through a bad ankle injury, Garoppolo put the 49ers up 21-3 with 11 seconds left in the first half. At this point, Garoppolo hobbled to the locker room immediately, and that would signal the end of his courageous day. We now know, with a high ankle sprain, Garoppolo was 14-16 for 131 yards and 2 TDs. His day was over, as Nick Mullens took over in the second half, but the message was sent. The situation looked grim, but Garoppolo's leadership carried the 49ers to a desperately needed victory while wading through dark waters. Thank you, James Richard Garoppolo.

The 49ers would go on to dominate a woebegone Jets team. There isn't much pride in a win like this, but it was a win that this team needed. San Francisco got it. The 49ers' decimated defense dominated a dubious duck-tossing Sam Darnold. The Jets never stood a chance on this Sunday, and that was evident right out of the gate. While the 49ers won big, they lost so much more. With injuries already piling up, the 49ers look to have lost 4 starters on this day. The dead horse doesn't need a beating, but let's look at what went wrong/right from Sunday's 31-13 victory over the NY Jets.

What Went Wrong


Injuries, injuries and more injuries - It's hard to imagine a season starting this poorly for the defending NFC champions. Entering the game sans All-Pro TE George Kittle, Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman, blossoming star WR Deebo Samuel, and high-priced DE Dee Ford, the 49ers were the walking wounded. Exiting the game, the 49ers lost DROY DE Nick Bosa, starting RB Raheem Mostert, DL Solomon Thomas, and franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The math is painfully obvious, after 2 weeks of football the 49ers are missing 7 starters. Ouch. Remember last year, when everyone complained about a Week 4 bye? Good Lord, the 49ers could use that break right about now.

RB Tevin Coleman - Every 49ers running back blazed through the Jets defense. Well, every RB aside from Tevin Coleman. RBs Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon accounted for 169 yards on 11 carries while scoring 2 TDs combined. Coleman, on the other hand, had 14 carries for 12 yards, averaging 0.9 yards per carry. Coleman has always been the least important member of the 49ers backfield. Now with an injury to Mostert, Coleman is a liability. The 49ers don't have the luxury of carrying an ineffective coaches-guy veteran any longer. The 49ers need to demote Coleman to the practice squad and add Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty to the gameday running backs group.

WR Dante Pettis - Another week, another no-show from Dante Pettis. The writing was on the wall when the 49ers signed WR Mohamed Sanu Sr. during the week. Though I don't have an official snap-count at this time, I spotted Sanu Sr. on the field more than I did Pettis. With Garoppolo possibly out, Nick Mullens would be the QB driving the 49ers offense for the foreseeable future. In 2018, Pettis found a connection with Mullens and this may be the only thing keeping Pettis on the roster. That chemistry may serve the 49ers well, but if Mullens isn't the QB for long, it's hard to imagine Pettis having a spot on this roster for much longer.

What Went Right


Damaged Defensive Line - With Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Solomon Thomas sidelined, the 49ers were working with a skeleton crew on the defensive line. They didn't wreak havoc across the Jets offensive line, but DL Arik Armstead got consistent pressure (unlike in Week 1) and DL Kerry Hyder Jr. continued to prove DL coach Kris Kocurek right as he racked up 8 tackles, 2nd most behind LB Fred Warner. The 49ers held the Jets to 3.6 yards per carry on the ground and for the second week in a row, run defense looked like a strength, rather than the weakness it was in 2019.

Gritty Jimmy Garoppolo - Dealing with a high ankle sprain, Garoppolo's toughness was his most admirable quality on Sunday. When Garoppolo went down after a shot to his right knee, it felt like 49ers fans were reliving the nightmare of 2018 all over again. Thankfully, Garoppolo was able to continue, leading the 49ers to a 21-3 lead at halftime. The often questioned QB delivered big in a tough spot, and the 49ers fans who were clamoring for another QB, enjoy. This might just remind many of those fans how good they really have it with Garoppolo at QB.

Revelation of Reed - That was impressive. A 49ers TE completely dominated the competition on Sunday and his name was Jordan Reed. The 49ers must have access to a time machine because 2015 Jordan Reed took the field yesterday. Sparking a connection with Garoppolo, Reed caught 2 TDs and played like a man on fire. If the 49ers can get Garoppolo on the field with Reed and George Kittle, the offense might just be good enough to keep this team sniffing around the playoff picture.

What's Next?


San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants, September 27th, 1PM EST at MetLife Stadium

The 49ers may dread returning to MetLife Stadium due to poor field conditions, but their next opponent is the New York Giants. The Giants are 0-2 after putting up a good fight in both games, but coming up short each time. Just like the 49ers, the Giants seem to have lost their best player to an ACL injury over the weekend. RB Saquon Barkley was carted off the field on Sunday. Barkley is the key to the Giants offense and without him QB Daniel Jones will have to rely on his arm to beat a banged up 49ers defense. The 49ers offense will be facing a tough test, as the Giants have kept games close with a toughness that starts up front on their defensive line. This one will be hard to pick, as the 49ers can win with QB Nick Mullens (3-5 as a starter in 2018) but all of the other injuries may be too much to overcome. Expect a defensive battle here, with both teams ranked in the top 7 in defense (NYG #5, SF #7). The key to winning this game will be limiting penalties, protecting the ball, and executing on the opportunities presented.
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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