Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


It’s Time to Let Jimmy Garoppolo Sink or Swim

Oct 24, 2020 at 10:00 AM0


In recent 49ers history, it might be difficult to name a player who draws more criticism for his on-field performance than current starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He is either considered the franchise quarterback who was responsible for leading his team to an NFC Championship and was one deep completion away from being a potential Super Bowl MVP, or he's viewed as a game manager occupying the most important spot on the roster until the real franchise QB is acquired. Despite your views on Jimmy Garoppolo, it's time for Kyle Shanahan to let him sink or swim.

The 49ers run game has evolved into a powerful force that most teams have trouble stopping. The scheme employs zone runs, power runs, gap runs, jet sweeps, drop passes (like those to WR Deebo Samuel against the Rams in Week 6) and screens. The success of the run game in 2019, and so far in 2020, has allowed Shanahan to take pressure off of his QB by not requiring him to push the ball down the field. Depending on how you view Garoppolo, the scheme and Shanahan's play calling is building his confidence, knowledge of the offense, and completion percentage while he continues to grow into an elite passer who can put the game on his shoulders; or Shanahan has lost confidence in his QB and is relying on his run game to win games while Garoppolo simply manages the game and takes care of the football

Let's look at the numbers. Jimmy Garoppolo has a career completion percentage of 66.9%, with his best season coming in 2019 with 68.5%. This season, his completion percentage is down to 63.6%. It's easy to see, with the stats and with your eyes, that Jimmy hasn't been as accurate as he should be this season. Now let's look at his yards per attempt. For his career, Jimmy is averaging 8.2 yards per attempted pass, with his best season coming in 2017 at 8.8 yards per attempt. So far this season, he is down to 7.4 yards per attempt, which is his lowest as the San Francisco 49ers starting QB. However, when looking at this statistic, one must take into account that the 49ers pass catchers excel at gaining yards after the catch (YAC), and Shanahan has designed his scheme around that talent. A short pass can be turned into a big gain with this YAC Attack, and anyone can complete short passes, right?

Now let's look at Jimmy Garoppolo and his downfield passing, which is where elite QBs tend to separate themselves. Specifically, let's look at passes of 20+ yards. Through four games, this has been Jimmy Garoppolo's worst season throwing the ball down the field. In 108 dropbacks, Garoppolo has only attempted a throw of 20+ yards down the field eight times with zero completions and one interception. The only starting QBs with fewer deep attempts are Kyle Allen of the Washington Football Team (2 games), Andy Dalton of the Dallas Cowboys (3 games), and Cam Newton of the New England Patriots (4 games). The only difference is that those three quarterbacks have completed at least one of those passes, which is more than Garoppolo's ZERO completions. However, in 2019, in 526 dropbacks, Garoppolo attempted 31 throws of 20+ yards down the field and he led the NFL in Adjusted Completion Percentage (a PFF stat which uses a formula that takes into account throwaways, spikes, batted passes, and passes released while being hit to get a better picture of actual accuracy) on said throws with 74.2%.

There is no doubt that the ability for Garoppolo to throw the ball down the field accurately is there. The only question is, will Garoppolo answer the bell when asked to do so?

It's time for Kyle Shanahan to take the training wheels off of the offense. He has dynamic playmakers like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on the outside and the game's best tight end in George Kittle, who is always better than the opponent trying to guard him. Let's see how much Garoppolo can do when his coach opens the playbook and starts letting him throw the ball downfield. One way or another, by doing this, the 49ers will know if Jimmy Garoppolo is the franchise quarterback they think he 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.


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