The play of Jimmy Garoppolo is a constant source of contention among 49ers fans. Last Sunday against Minnesota was no different.
Despite struggling early on, Garoppolo was able to make a number of big throws throughout the contest to help San Francisco come out on top and move into the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs.
Let’s look at Garoppolo’s worst and best throws from Sunday.
2nd and 5, 49ers 34, First Quarter
In the first pass of the game, after the play fake, Garoppolo has George Kittle wide open on an over route. Instead he throws high over Deebo Samuel, who was triple covered without even looking in Kittle’s direction. Instead of a possible touchdown, the 49ers are left with third and six.
1st and 10, Vikings 46, First Quarter
Garoppolo has Aiyuk wide open, running a slant on the right side. The quarterback hits his back foot and lets it go, but the throw sails high and Aiyuk is unable to reel it in.
3rd and 12, Vikings 47, First Quarter
As he drops back, Garoppolo is focused on Brandon Aiyuk. With Aiyuk blanketed by Patrick Peterson, Garoppolo moves to his second read and tries to force it in to Deebo Samuel. He never sees Minnesota safety Harrison Smith sitting in the middle of the field to rob an in breaking route from the right side. Smith steps in front of Samuel for the interception.
“No one was there, you take the sack or you hit the check down,” Kyle Shanahan said about the play. “He knew that, and I knew it because I could see it wasn’t a good play call as soon as I called it.”
3rd and 3, 49ers 33, Second Quarter
Garoppolo has George Kittle open on a quick out to his left. His decision to go there is correct. However, the ball comes out late, and the throw is behind Kittle. The 49ers got lucky this one fell incomplete instead of ending up as a pick six.
1st and 20, Vikings 39, Second Quarter
This play sets off a string of events that is typical Jimmy Garoppolo. Facing first and long, following a holding penalty on Laken Tomlinson, Garoppolo looks to his left and then back to his right before trying to hit Elijah Mitchell underneath on a checkdown. Mitchell is wide open with a lot of green in front of him, but Garoppolo’s throw sails high, and Mitchell is unable to bring it in.
Garoppolo would follow this up by hitting Mitchell on the same route on the next play before making his best throw of the day to Brandon Aiyuk, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
3rd and 6, 49ers 33, First Quarter
This is the next play after missing Kittle and overthrowing Samuel. Garoppolo gets the ball out quickly and is able to thread the needle to Jauan Jennings, who makes a nice grab to convert for a first down.
3rd and 13, 49ers 22, First Quarter
Remember how badly Garoppolo missed George Kittle running open on the first pass of the game? He doesn’t make that same mistake twice. Facing third and long, Kyle Shanahan again dials up the over route from right to left, this time with Brandon Aiyuk running the route. Garoppolo steps up and drills the ball, which was tipped at the line of scrimmage, in to Aiyuk to convert the third down and move into Minnesota territory.
3rd and 11, Vikings 30, Second Quarter
Two plays after the inaccurate throw to Mitchell, the 49ers again face third and long. Garoppolo rips a dime to Brandon Aiyuk on a slant over the middle for a gain of 24. On this one, I chose to include the end zone look as well to show just how close Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr’s hand was to tipping the ball away.
This was without a doubt the best throw from Garoppolo in the game.
1st and 10, 49ers 25, Third Quarter
On the opening play of the second half, Garoppolo gets some pressure up the middle after center Alex Mack gets beat. Garoppolo is able to move just enough to get the ball out to Elijah Mitchell in the right flat, and Mitchell does a terrific job to pick up the first down.
1st and 10, 49ers 25, Third Quarter
Off play action, Garoppolo moves to his left and hits Aiyuk on a dagger route in the middle of the field for a big gain into Minnesota territory. There isn’t anything special about this play from Garoppolo, but it’s highlighted here because they are once again able to quickly flip field position on Minnesota.
2nd and 10, 49ers 15, Fourth Quarter
This would be Garoppolo’s final throw of the game. Deep in their own end after the defense game up with a goalline stand, Garoppolo finds Kyle Juszczyk down the seam with a perfect for a gain of 26. This gets San Francisco out near midfield, and the offense is able to run the clock down to under two minutes remaining.