The San Francisco 49ers finally return home after two weeks on the road and look to bounce back against the Chiefs. Jimmy Garoppolo could not accomplish a personal milestone of three straight games without throwing an interception. Hopefully, he can return to playing quarterback mistake-free and not lose games.
The Mystery Around 49ers Quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco plays the Kansas City Chiefs this week in hopes to move their record to 4-3 and increase their lead in the NFC West. Every knowledgeable 49er fan knows who Jimmy Garoppolo is and who he isn’t. We all know he is a limited talent who cannot push the ball downfield. Thankfully the organization has Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers play-caller is tasked to carefully construct a game plan week in and week out for Jimmy to thrive.
Since Jimmy Garoppolo took over for Trey Lance, he has played well. In relief of Lance in Week Two against Seattle, Garoppolo did not turn the football over, which resulted in a 49er win. Additionally, in Weeks Four and Five, Garoppolo threw for three touchdowns and had zero interceptions.
The last two weeks have been “mistake-free” for the nine-year veteran. At least, he has not made any catastrophic mistakes or let the opposition back into the game as of late. Against the Denver Broncos, Jimmy made three huge blunders that essentially cost San Francisco the game. First, he fumbled during the center-quarterback exchange, which Denver recovered. Second, he stepped out of the back of his own end-zone, resulting in a safety and two points for Denver. Lastly, he threw a late interception while the offense couldn’t score any points.
In what is considered the “worst regular season loss” in franchise history, Garoppolo managed to bounce back against the Rams. However, a majority of the credit should go to Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy’s supporting cast of playmakers.
The West Coast Offense?
In Week Four against the Rams, Garoppolo completed nine of his 16 passes behind the line of scrimmage and averaged less than three completed air yards per attempt (CAY/YA). Even though this is one game, Garoppolo averages only 3.5 CAY/YA for his career, which is lower than quarterbacks such as Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Tannehill, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Jared Goff, and Justin Fields. Additionally, approximately 53% of his yards from 2019 and 2021, his two healthy seasons were yards after the catch.
This is exactly why Garoppolo cannot turn the football over. At times the offense is anemic and the defense can’t hold for 17 games. The 49ers’ passing game is on the low end of “dink and dunk”. Fortunately for San Francisco, they have drafted offensive weapons year in and year out.
Another frustrating part about the 49ers’ offense is the lack of a vertical presence. San Francisco rarely scores quickly through the air, unless Deebo Samuel breaks five tackles and gets to the end zone. There is context behind every turnover. Even when Garoppolo throws an interception, it’s usually eight to twelve yards downfield and always susceptible to a long return. Sometimes a 50-yard interception is just like a punt and does not hurt as much.
Credit Is Deserved!
I do want to give Garoppolo credit for doing his job the last few weeks. At times he can be completely inept, but also the offense moves nicely. The offense moves more often than not. The 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl if Garoppolo keeps this pace. The defense is elite, the playmakers are elite, the play-caller is elite, and the coaching is elite.
The 49ers have the pieces to get it done, the critical factor is the quarterback. Jimmy G has had a good run so far, but I believe in this scenario, the law of averages applies unless you are an all-time great.