49ers Film Review: The worst and best of Jimmy Garoppolo against Minnesota

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo smiles after the 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

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.

The Bad

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.

The Good

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.

This article has 9 Comments

  1. When I look at Jimmy’s footwork in these clips and compare to him earlier in his career it looks almost like two different QBs. For example:
    In earlier clips you see a more traditional passer where he very often moves forward into the pocket and uses his whole lower body to pass the ball. Lately it seems like he almost never is able to move up in the pocket and gain any forward momentum for his throws. Not sure what the cause is but my sense is that he was fundamentally a better passer in his years with the Pats and when he first arrived here. Would be interested to hear others thoughts on this. In this film the narrator refers to him as very sound fundamentally but I don’t see the same passer in recent times. He seems to have changed his focus to just getting the ball out of his hands as fast as he can.
    I don’t think we will know his true worth until he plays on a team with better pass protection. Notice the lookout block by Trent Williams in the first clip of Jack’s analysis.

    1. I’m really glad you posted this. I totally agree that Jimmy’s footwork has deteriorated since he first came to the 49ers. My conjecture was that Jimmy saw Tom Brady’s impeccable footwork in practice every day and that rubbed off on him. Now his footwoork is really bad most of the time. His base for the majority of his throws is way off. I also agree that part of that is due to the pressure he faces causes him to rush to get the pass off. I think the other part is he no longer has a QB to emulate in practice.

    2. I watched the first video I posted again and there’s one throw Jimmy makes where he almost effortlessly throws a strike 43 yards in the air. Also, he throws dimes outside the numbers. Both we are now told are not in his skill set. But on the 43 yard pass you cannot miss that the Pats blockers have two rushers pinned one yard from the LOS so there is a clean pocket he can step up into and set himself properly. The 49ers pass blockers are terrible in the middle and there is almost always one or two pass rushers who are in his face when he releases. I can’t say it enough – the Jimmy we have is a different guy.

      1. Yup. Interior O Line Pass Pro has been bad. Scary thing is Shanahan said Aaron Banks needs to improve in his Pass Pro before he gets playing time. EXACTLY how BAD must your SECOND ROUND pick look in Pass Pro that he can’t beat out Daniel freaking Brunskill?

  2. Hi,

    thanks for this article, I like it.

    First scene under “good” and third scene under “good”: Are these both really good? When I watch the second 00:30 on the third “good” video and 00:16 in the first “good” video, it looks we are only talking about 10 inches it would have been touched by the opponent or 20 inches and it would have maybe been intercepted. I think that was very lucky and too risky.

    But I miss the touchdown where the pass went to the right. The receiver was running on the endzone line to the right and Jimmy passed from 150 degrees from behind and the recived was closely defended from behind. So the only pass spot was in running direction. And Jimmy made a perfect pass into the only spot where that touchdown was catchable. The pass was caught on the one yards line and the received made a nice movement to bring the ball just over end line before the pylon was reached. For me that was the best Jimmy pass in the game.

  3. It seams to me that I remember most of the interceptions come early in the game before he’s got into a rhythm. I don’t have any stats to back that up, but just from memory. As for footwork Kyle has recently explained why his footwork works for him because of his body Torque. His completion rate always ranks in the top half of the league or better. Grant always complains about the footwork and is constantly negative about Jimmy to the point of an emotional bias.
    It will be interesting to see Jimmy on another team. He plays within Kyles system which is shorter passes down the middle. He has the ability to pass deep but with few opportunities it’s not evident to me his accuracy on these. I think sometimes people get confused between Jimmy’s play and
    Kyles passing system which relies on the running game to draw the linebackers up so the Quarterback can hit receivers behind them down the middle of the field.

  4. Just to find an interested audience even if it’s a shift in subject, his called second touchdown pass to Jennings should have been confirmed, not reversed. It looked clear that his shin touched in-bounds before his knee touched out-of-bounds. Under the rules — any part of the body above the ankle — he was down in-bounds. The extra completed pass, second touchdown and 15 extra yards would have moved his passer rating for the day to a very good 110 instead of a so-so 90.

    The worst part was how fast the review officials reversed the call in an important game. At absolute minimum, they should have spent time analyzing whether the shin touched first, and if they thought it unclear, the call should have stood. Why did they decide so fast? That deserves some investigation. The former replay guy in the booth mentioned the shin after so adamantly declaring the pass incomplete because of where the knee landed, but he dropped that angle entirely when the hurried reversal was called. Why did they do that?

  5. I’m fully aware of JG’s limitations. I am not making excuses but offering an explanation I have heard Steve Young make. In a 3-7 second sequence the quarterbacks vision cant be everywhere. During the time he scanning region A and B, a player in region C may be open for a second or two. That is probably because the S/LB drift with the QB’s eyes.

  6. 49er pass protection is horrible. the right side of the line from center to tackle has been a train wreck for years. for some reason they cant or wont address it. until they do any qb on this team will have problems

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