SANTA CLARA — The 49ers return to training camp Thursday after four straight grueling practices and a day off to catch their breath. Here are the top five takeaways from camp so far.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo has lots of work to do
That’s no condemnation of Garoppolo. He’s coming off a torn ACL and hasn’t played football since October. He’s supposed to be rusty. And, boy, is he.
During 11-on-11 team drills in camp, Garoppolo has completed just 24 of 48 passes – 50%. Not good. His backup, Nick Mullens, has completed 20 of 28 passes — 71%.
Mullens has the advantage because he knows the offense better than Garoppolo and practiced more than him during OTAs and minicamp. Garoppolo was rehabbing his knee. He didn’t participate in team drills.
In addition, Garoppolo’s performance in camp hasn’t been all bad. He threw a beautiful deep touchdown pass that traveled 60 yards in the air. He even ran for a 10-yard gain.
But his passes often have been late and inaccurate. He has missed short, medium and long throws. And when he misses, he usually has missed high and to the right. All clear signs he’s out of practice.
He also has predetermined his throws before the snap — a clear sign he needs to improve reading defenses. On Tuesday, Garoppolo predetermined a throw to Richie James, who was covered by Greg Mabin, a backup cornerback filling in for starter Ahkello Witherspoon.
Garoppolo dropped back, stared down James and threw him the ball, expecting him to beat Mabin. But James didn’t beat Mabin. The pass landed incomplete. Meanwhile, Trent Taylor was wide open over the middle. Garoppolo never looked at him.
Good quarterbacks don’t always decide where to throw before the play starts. Good quarterbacks go through their reads quickly and decisively. Mullens is a speed reader. Garoppolo move his lips when he reads, so to speak.
Perhaps Garoppolo will improve his speed reading with practice.
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