The San Francisco 49ers 26-23 victory over Cincinnati has set the team up for a second playoff run under Kyle Shanahan. It just so happens that Shanahan’s second trip to the playoffs could come when Jimmy Garoppolo stays healthy. Coincidence?
When I requested comments for this week’s mailbag, it should come as no surprise that Garoppolo was one of the top names to pop up.
@ovinator – Jimmy Garoppolo requires a strong offensive line, but his salary does not allow big investments. Corners are also needed. Is there a way to build a working team around #10 with his salary?
San Francisco has just over $10 million in salary cap for 2022 with only 32 players under contract. With a cap hit of $27 million, it would take a restructuring of Garoppolo’s contract to make it feasible for the veteran quarterback to return.
With Trey Lance waiting in the wings to take over the starting role and given the amount of draft capital the organization used for that acquisition, it seems unlikely they would be interested in using future cap space on Garoppolo.
While moving on from Garoppolo makes sense financially, it may cost the team on the field depending on how Lance performs.
Garoppolo is 29-13 as a starter with San Francisco. Injuries derailed his season and the team in 2018 and 2020. If he can stay healthy and the team finishes the year out on their current path it will be two playoff appearances in the two seasons he played the majority of games.
Say what you want about him, Garoppolo is a winner.
@RayMart8722 – Jack, do you think that there is enough evidence to support the theory that Shanahan & Garoppolo should be operating the offense under an up-tempo game speed more often? I had no idea that under the 2-minute offense the 49ers were ranked 2nd in the NFL in points.
I think Shanahan would like to get the offense moving faster than they have been able to at times this year, but it’s a balance.
I’d also argue the 49ers defense has also played a role in the tempo of the offense this season. There was a stretch in the middle of the year during which the defense went through transition, and it took a couple of weeks for them to get into rhythm.
Those long, time consuming drives during victories over Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and Minnesota was key to reducing the snaps for the defense.
One thing is for certain on though, it’s good to know the 49ers offense can move the ball down the field late in games when called upon. That could come in handy over the remainder of the season and into the postseason.
Here is what Shanahan told Bay Area media on Monday when asked about this topic, ““I don’t know. Jimmy’s got some real good throwing ability. When we go there, it’s usually we need it and you’ve got to cut it loose and make plays and he’s had some success with that. We’ve done it sometimes in situations when it’s not two-minute, but
it’s all or nothing when it’s those moments. So, you know he is going to make some plays and try to avoid the bad ones.”
Shanahan was also asked if it’s the pressure of the moment that makes Garoppolo thrive.
“I think so. I think he does really good in those situations.” said Shanahan. The game never seems too
big for him. When you’re going fast, there’s not a lot of time to sit there and think. You just react. And usually when Jimmy’s reacting, he’s letting it rip and not hesitating and he’s pretty automatic.”
@joezinsf – What chances are there Jennings gets more regular reps? Great blocker and the huge catch radius Air James needs.
Jauan Jennings has shown his ability to make plays when called upon throughout this season. His catch in overtime on a back shoulder throw from Jimmy Garoppolo was a thing of beauty.
Jennings’ role is clearly defined as that of the third wide receiver, meaning his targets will be somewhat limited.
I believe the next step for Jennings is to become the first man up if Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk are out, replacing Trent Sherfield in that role.
If Jennings can continue to make big plays like we’ve seen recently, Jennings may force the hand of Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers offensive coaching staff.
@C_Allan_Cain – Curious why Ward doesn’t get the nod to CB more since they’re pretty healthy at safety now.
The 49ers can’t afford to move Ward out of his role at free safety. Talanoa Hufanga is a promising rookie, but he struggles when playing the high safety role.
In addition, while Ward has the ability to play cornerback the best use of Ward’s talents is as a safety while occasionally moving down into the slot to cover a tight end or receiver.
@skies_montana – Are there any quality CB’s the 49ers could sign before the playoffs? If not, can the DL continue to protect the rookies in the secondary with great pressure up front?
At this point in the season the quality of cornerbacks available through free agency isn’t better than what the 49ers already have on their roster.
The team took a gamble on Jason Verrett in the offseason, believing he would be able to stay healthy for a second season despite the evidence showing otherwise. That move clearly didn’t pay off.
Through the draft San Francisco added two cornerbacks, Ambry Thomas in round three and Deommodore Lenoir in round five. Both have made starts this season, and their play is about what you would expect from a mid-round rookie cornerback.
Your second question has been the philosophy of the 49er’s front office during the tenure of the current regime, a strong pass rush will make the secondary better.
Taking a look at what they’ve done in recent weeks; victories over Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Cincinnati, three of the best passing teams in the NFL make it difficult to argue they are wrong.
Looking forward, San Francisco will likely need to keep getting pressure without Dee Ford. The 49ers have until Wednesday to make a decision regarding activating Ford from injured reserve.
“That’s something that I never can predict, I’ll be surprised if he’s back,” Shanahan told reporters on Monday. “I think we’ll just have to continue playing without him.”