49ers Monday musings: Jimmy Garoppolo leads the way early on

San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack (50) and his teammates line up against the Dallas Cowboys defense during a wild card NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. San Francisco won 23-17. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The San Francisco 49ers went on the road and held the top scoring offense in the NFL to 17 points. Making that even more impressive is they pulled it off while playing without Nick Bosa and Fred Warner for the final eight plus minutes of the game.

Starting with a week ten upset of the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco defense has held opponents to 24 points or fewer.

On Sunday, the defensive front once again set the tone for the 49ers’ defense.

On the opening possession for Dallas, Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam broke through the Cowboys’ offensive line to drop Dak Prescott on third down for the first of five sacks San Francisco would record on the day.

After Bosa went down with a concussion late in the second quarter, Charles Omenihu stepped in and came up big. San Francisco acquired Omenihu in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick just before the trade deadline in early November. Against the Cowboys, Omenihu got to Dak Prescott three times recording 1.5 sacks and forcing a fumble.

Arik Armstead and D.J. Jones continued to come up big in the middle of the 49ers’ defense. Both interior defensive linemen were able to record a sack and tackle for loss against Dallas and have combined for 5.5 sacks over the last two weeks.

The biggest play of the day from the pass rush may have come from Jordan Willis. It was a strong pass rush from Willis that forced Prescott to throw early late in the third quarter, leading to an interception by K’Waun Williams.

Deebo Samuel would score on the next play to give the 49ers a 23-7 lead they would not relinquish.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s up and down day

There is no denying that Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough second half against Dallas. His three mistakes: missing Brandon Aiyuk with a throw on third down, throwing inaccurately and getting intercepted in the fourth quarter, and snapping the ball before Trent Williams was set helped Dallas stick around until the end.

At the same time, the 49ers don’t win this game without Garoppolo’s performance in the first half.

Garoppolo completed 11 of 14 passes for 133 yards in the first half while leading the 49ers’ offense to scores on their first four possession of the game.

The quarterback was particularly good on third down in the opening half, hitting on four of five third down pass attempts. Three of the completions led to third down conversions to extend the drives and the fourth helped move San Francisco into position for a Robbie Gould field goal.

How good was Garoppolo’s first half? Garoppolo finished Sunday’s game with the second highest total according to ESPN’s total QBR rating system. Total QBR was designed to incorporate all of a quarterback’s contributions to winning by accounting for a team’s level of success or failure on every play.

If Garoppolo can put together a full game as he played in the first half, San Francisco should have a good chance of upsetting Green Bay.

Special teams ups and downs

Like Jimmy Garoppolo the 49ers’ special teams continue to be inconsistent. On Sunday the 49ers punt return unit twice made mistakes in the second half to extend Dallas’ possessions.

The first mistake came on Dallas’ opening possession of the second half when linebacker Mark Nzeocha was called for roughing the punter, giving the Cowboys an automatic first down. Although the defense would eventually get a stop, the mistake meant the 49ers’ offense would open the half on its own seven yard line instead of the 33.

The second mistake would come early in the fourth quarter when the 49ers allowed Dallas to successfully execute a fake punt on fourth and five near midfield. The 16-yard completion from punter Brian Anger to Malik Turner would lead to a Dallas field goal, cutting the San Francisco lead to 23-10.

As bad as the 49ers were at times on special teams Sunday, they don’t win the game without Robbie Gould.

While the punt return unit struggled, Robbie Gould and the 49ers field goal unit picked them up. Gould connected on field goals from 53, 40 and 52 yards out in the first half to help give San Francisco a 16-7 lead.

Carrying the rock

Elijah Mitchell led the way for the 49ers on the ground with 96 yards rushing and a touchdown against Dallas. The rookie carried the ball 27 times, tied for the second most in 49ers postseason history with Ken Willard and only two behind Raheem Mostert’s 29 carries against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game following the 2019 season.

Deebo Samuel couldn’t let Mitchell have all the fun. In addition to hauling in three passes for 38 yards, Samuel ran the ball 10 times for 72 yards including a 26-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game winner. Of Samuel’s 72 yards, 59 of them came on six carries after halftime.

What Samuel has done this season has never been seen before. Samuel’s 72 rushing yards are the most by a wide receiver in a postseason game in NFL history. Samuel’s performance on Sunday, along with his 53-yard effort against Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV gives him two of the three top rushing games by a wide receiver in a postseason game.

Injury update

The 49ers were hit with injuries during the game to key players. Nick Bosa is in the NFL concussion protocol after colliding with teammate D.J. Jones on a pass rush late in the first half. Kyle Shanahan told Bay Area media during a conference call on Monday the 49ers are optimistic about Bosa being cleared to play Saturday night.

Fred Warner suffered a lower ankle sprain, but as is the case with Bosa, Shanahan expressed positivity that the linebacker should be ready to go on Saturday.

Defensive end Jordan Willis suffered a high ankle sprain and his availability for Green Bay is currently unknown.

There was one injury that was not reported during or after the game, and that involves Jimmy Garoppolo. According to Shanahan, Garoppolo suffered a slight sprain to his right shoulder in the second quarter. The quarterback was able to play through some pain, but he ended up checking out alright and the team expects him to be available for Wednesday’s practice.

This article has 25 Comments

    1. Kyler Murray, OMG, he looked like a rookie making his first NFL start tonight! That was a very troubling game for the Cardinals, IMO, considering their current circumstances!

      And can I just say that, as unhappy I am with the way that ShanaLynch filed for divorce from Jimmy G this last offseason, but allowed him to continue to live in the same house, even though he can’t even cook. But how thankful I truly am that they at least had enough sense to draft Trey Lance and steer clear of Mac Jones. At least they 49ers found themselves what sure seems to be a much needed upgrade! The Patriots on the other hand, are about to enter the realm of eternal mediocrity, and baring something bad happening to Josh Allen (knock on wood), Belichick will likely never win the AFC East again, no matter how long he remains as the Patriots HC!

      The 49ers sure dodged a bullet, as they say!

  1. 8years – 50+ NFL starts – Playoffs – SB – and you could not be poised/calm/relaxed/patience on 4th and inches to allow your LT (who you made change position on the line) to line up = is the reason why Jimmy can’t be the 49er QB of the future.

    Things happen like that too often for Garoppolo. It’s so often that it’s not just predictable but expected. Everything is going well for the 49ers. Then, when you least expect it, expect it. Or, when you most expect it, expect it.

  2. “If Garoppolo can put together a full game like he played in the first half, San Francisco should have a good chance of upsetting Green Bay.”

    This is a true statement, Jack.

    But it’s also true that Jimmy rarely puts together a full 4 QTRs of quality quarterbacking. He’s usually good for 2 QTRS, and bad for 2 QTRS’s, and that’s why he is just as often a liability than a he is an asset, especially in the big games. Again, this isn’t some anomaly due to having a bad thumb, and now apparently a bum shoulder. In fact, yesterday Jimmy outperformed his postseason norm, and he still kept the Cowboys alive by missing wide open receivers, sailing the ball high (when Jimmy misses, it’s usually high, which is the worst kind of miss, because those are the throws that are most likely to get batted up into the air for easy INT’s), and making boneheaded decisions, like throwing the ball backwards, or worst of all – failing to even concern himself with having his offensive linemen set before he calls for the snap, on what could have been a game deciding QB sneak on 4th down and inches. I can accept his physical limitations, as frustrating as they can be, but what I can’t accept are the indefensible, inexplicable, boneheaded rookie mistakes. This is a veteran with 8+ years of experience, for crying out loud! But perhaps most frustrating of all, is that he seems to lack the self-awareness required in order to grow as a football player, and that’s simply not good enough for the kind of money the 49ers are paying him, and in fact an argument could easily be made that his best 5 game stretch for the 49ers occurred in his first 5 starts back in 2017!

    And that’s really the rub, right? It’s one thing to build around a young QB who is making these kind of mistakes, but isn’t being paid like a franchise QB, but it’s something else entirely when it’s a veteran who is taking up a whopping 13.5% of the salary cap (2021)!

    And how can other young players be held accountable for their development when your veteran quarterback, who is the highest paid player on the team, by a wide margin, doesn’t even seem to realize his own shortcomings, or understand where he needs to improve?

    Again, here are Jimmy’s up-to-date career postseason stats: 4 starts – 63.9% completion percentage, 2 TD’s, 4 INT’s, 119.8 passing yards per game, and a 73.3 Passer Rating! And yesterday he was the 49ers 3rd worst offensive player according to PFF (54.5), right behind 2 UNDRAFTED players – Daniel Brunskill and Trent Sherfield, for crying out loud! Do you know how much money Brunskill and Sherfield make COMBINED? $1.77M, or less than 1/15th of the amount that Jimmy makes – COMBINED!

    My gosh, it’s remarkable that the 49ers are even in the playoffs, let alone moving onto the 2nd round. But if Jimmy doesn’t turn his postseason play around in a big hurry, like 6 days from now, the 49ers are done for the season. Oh, and Jimmy now has a SPRAINED RIGHT SHOULDER to go along with a torn ligament in the same hand/arm, and he’s about to play a 2nd playoff game in 6 days, in the freezing cold, against a rested team, and one the road, because he played so poorly in the first half of the season. Sure, the 49ers poor play in the first half of the season certainly wasn’t all on Jimmy, but again, he’s the QB, and he’s one of the highest paid players in the league, and it’s a QUARTERBACK DRIVEN LEAGUE!

      1. I’m not whining about the 49ers. I love this team. It’s my passion for this team that makes me so upset about the quarterback. It’s my passion for this team that makes it so hard to watch the same player continue to hold the team back, year after year, because he seems incapable of self reflection, and thus he usually plays his worst football in the most important games if the season.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love this team whether they win or lose. I ride or die with the Niners, but that doesn’t mean I am going to shut up, and not speak out when I see a player who obviously isn’t interested in improving, which when you’re talking about your franchise QB, means everything to the Niners’ Super Bowl aspersions. I’d certainly be less upset if I didn’t think that they currently have a QB on their roster who could have solved this seemingly never ending problem, if Kyle simply had the guts to embrace him as a rookie. We are now stuck watching Garoppolo make the same back breaking mistakes that already cost this team a much more favorable playoff seeding. And that’s only two years removed from watching the HC do everything he could to prevent the same player from ruining the team’s Super Bowl chances, and even taking the football out of the quarterback’s hand as much as he possibly could in 2019, it still wasn’t enough to shield the 49ers from Jimmy’s destruction in the Super Bowl, now was it! What’s changed? If anything, the postseason landscape is even tougher this season, so why in the world would the status quo make sense for a 49ers team that couldn’t get the job done just 2 years ago, under nearly perfect postseason conditions?

        Jimmy is the problem, but Kyle shouldn’t escape blame for putting this team in the same situation, IMO, because once again, the 49ers ended up winning a playoff game in SPITE of their most important player, at the most important position on the team. And then to listen to Jimmy’s oblivious attitude in terms of potentially correcting his mistakes moving forward, is more than I can handle without speaking out on the subject!

        1. 49Reasons, everyone knows how you feel. I share some of the same frustrations.

          However, the coaches obviously believe that Jimmy gives them the better chance to win. It’s as simple as that. I once doubted their judgment but eventually had to face the fact that I was being a fool about it.

          We may lose the next game because of Jimmy, in fact I expect we won’t make it because of him, but that’s life.

          You are knowledgeable about the sport and the team, but you don’t watch the practices or have a seat in the quarterback room. So why you persist in this belief is a complete mystery to me.

          Please get real about this. Even if you can’t get your head around this basic fact, give the rest of us a break, will you? We know your view. You don’t have to repeat it incessantly.

    1. but again, he’s the QB, and he’s one of the highest paid players in the league, and it’s a QUARTERBACK DRIVEN LEAGUE!

      QBs having a higher salary cap hit than Jimmy who didn’t taste the playoffs or were one and done:
      Prescott
      Watson
      Wilson
      Goff
      Cousins
      Wentz

      To win the SB you have to make the playoffs first. His team is one of this years elite 8. They are getting their money’s worth.

      PS: quit with your ALL CAPS. It’s making you look more unhinged than you already are.

  3. Concerning the Mark Nzeocha kicker rush, a rules question: My perception was that a Cowboys player pushed Nzeocha into the Kicker to enforce a penalty. Nzeoche tries to get down on the ground before he hits the kicker, but the oponent pushed him so that he get more momentum and crashes into the kicker. Why is that allowed? How much pushing is allowed? Can he just grab the player and throw him into the kicker as well?

    1. That’s one of those penalties that is up to the referee’s discretion. If they determine that it wasn’t caused by the players own momentum, they don’t have to throw a flag, but in a situation like that, where it’s even close, they are always going to error on protecting the kicker, especially when the plant-leg is involved.

      Personally, I think they got the call right on that one. In fact, I thought the officials ended up having a good game …. for a change.

        1. Kyle is on the road to redemption in my eyes. I’ll never understand the decision to roll with Jimmy this season, after everything that has transpired during both on, and off of the field over the last couple years, but if Kyle can find a way to beat the Packers on Saturday, not only am I prepared to take back a large part of my criticism of him, but I am also prepared to elevate his status as a play caller/play designer, which to be clear, was never in question in the first place as far as I am concerned.

          Sure, there will still be aspects of the head coaching portion of his job, that I think Kyle needs to do better moving forward, but the fact that his team is now 3-1 in the postseason, despite how poorly Jimmy has played in those 4 games, tells me that I have been selling Kyle short as a HC!

          I cannot overstate just how impressive these last two games have been in terms of Kyle’s play calling (and Kyle’s legacy), but he’s been nothing short of brilliant over the last couple weeks, that’s for sure! To go into Arlington Texas, and basically dominate the Cowboys thru the first 40 minutes of the game, and then find a way to hold on for the win despite his QB finding the most creative, mind-blowing ways to give the game away, is impressive on it’s own. But to do this only a week after going into LA and throttling one of the NFC’s best all-around teams, after falling behind by 17 points, because this time his QB basically sleep-walked thru the first half of the game, well that was simply next level! In fact, I don’t think there is another HC in the NFL who could have as much success with a serial arsonist as his QB, than Kyle Shanahan, who has distilled his offense down to be as QB friendly as it could possibly be, and that includes Andy Reid, Bill Belichick, and Sean Peyton.

          And if you don’t believe me about just how QB friendly this offense is, go back and read what STEVE YOUNG had to say about it after sitting in on one of Kyle’s pre-game meetings before their week 6 (10/18/2020) NFC West matchup VS the Rams last season.

          I am posting the link below, and I think it’s a must read for every Niner fan. In fact, after reading this again it has renewed my confidence in Trey Lance’s development under Kyle!

          Steve Young went into a story with David Bonilla, of visiting the 49ers locker room before the Rams/Niners game last season (Niners won 24-16), and watching Kyle run his team through the game’s first 20 plays.

          Steve Young: “He was going through them, and it was very specific, and all the reads felt really simple. Like, it was one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two. And I, as a quarterback, you’re like, ‘I like this simplicity’, this is good, I like this.”

          David Bonilla: “Young noted, though, that Shanahan never mentioned during the run-through what to do should the defense blitz on any given play. Young remembers it being common to go through those types of scenarios while running through a game plan.”

          Steve Young: “At the end, I went over to him, and I was like, ‘Hey, those are great plays. I love those plays. It’s really simple but kind of difficult, cool, kind of unique ways to attack the defense that can cause some problems with the defense, but for you, pretty straight forward.’ I said, ‘What about blitz? What about all the (different blitz packages) looks? He said, ‘Oh, it’s good against everything.’ I was like, ‘What? It’s good to go?!’ That’s where I changed. I had always sensed that the game had changed, and we were more college-like … That’s where I changed because I was like, ‘Wait a second. We’re going up in a big game, it was a big game against the Rams, and you’re telling me in the first 20 plays, those 11 passes you just went through are one-two reads, and there’s nothing to worry about in blitz? ….. Sign me up!'”

          Sounds genius to me!

  4. Jack, your writing has improved but you’re getting a little sloppy.
    to give the 49ers a 23-7 lead they would not relinquish.
    They DID give up the 23-7, just not the lead
    Garoppolo finished Sunday’s game with the second highest total

    2nd to who? himself or other QBs?
    As bad as the 49ers were at times on special teams this Sunday, they don’t win the game without Robbie Gould.

    didn’t win…
    during a conference call on Monday that the 49ers are optimistic

    expressed positivity is a creative way to avoid redundancy but also reads a little awkward.
    sometimes keeping it simple is best.
    Will you be going to Green Bay?

    1. Dee:

      I don’t think that “didn’t win” is correct. Jack’s sentence has a hypothetical element to it. He could have replaced “don’t win” with “couldn’t have won” which sounds better to me.

      1. Cube, I stand corrected!
        The “don’t win” is hypothetical or even prophetical, maybe that was jack’s aim.

  5. It’s Packers week. In just looking back at the first meeting back in September there were a few things that stood out. The 49ers were without Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson. Trey Sermon was the leading rusher with 10 carries. Kyle Juszcsyk was second with 5 carries. 49ers got down 17-0 late in the 2nd qtr so they abandoned the run. 49ers only had 21 rushing attempts in the game. Lenoir and Norman were the starting CBs in this game. Davante Adams had 18 targets with 12 receptions for 132 yards and 1 TD. The next closest WR was Valdes-Scanlon with 4 targets. Also, this was the 3rd game of the season. DeMeco Ryans is a much different DC now than he was then. And this was one of the worst officiated games in the NFL all season. Both the Packers and 49ers benefitted from bad calls but in the 1st half 2 HORRIBLE PI calls on the 49ers helped the Packers tremendously on two 3rd down plays. Also, in the final drive Samson Ekubam was tackled WWE style up the middle in plain view of the official on a 25 yard completion to Davante Adams. If that holding is called, the 49ers likely win the game.

    https://twitter.com/DannyAdelante/status/1442336474855198723?s=20

    All this to say, the 49ers had everything going against them in the first matchup. Don’t like playing the Packers on the road when they’ve had a week of rest but this matchup will be a lot more even than the first matchup.

    1. Teams that have a week off, often start poorly. The key might be getting a good lead while the Packers are getting reacclimated; so maybe be very aggressive on offense.

    2. I’m not a conspiracy theorist “the league plays favoritism to certain players because they want to promote them to the next game”. But if I were I’d say watch out for calls going against the Niners.

  6. Football fans, coaches, and media personalities usually make statements about players or predictions on the outcome of games without any presentation of facts or give reasons without explaining themselves. One fan might say Jimmy G is terrible just because he throws a lot of interceptions. Another fan might say Jimmy G is lousy because we don’t know which Jimmy we’re going to get. It might be the good Jimmy, but it might be the bad Jimmy. Every NFL QB throws interceptions, even multiple interceptions in a game. Which QB doesn’t? It’s part of the game.

    Niners fans or the press will recite all the bad game facts. For example in the Cowboys game, they will point to three Jimmy G mistakes: he overthrew a wide open Aiyuk, he threw a fourth quarter interception, and he didn’t wait for Trent Williams to get set. When the QB are being chased by a 300 lb lineman who can crush him, he’s going to get rid of the ball. Sometimes an incomplete pass or interception will be the result. Some people are more fair, and recite facts from a series of games. In a postgame show, a media personality asked another, “Jimmy G threw five interceptions in his last three games. How concerned are you about that?” Yes, it’s true, but he was 2-1 against playoff bound teams. In the game that Jimmy G lost to theTitans, theyare the number one seed of the AFC, 6th in defensive points allowed, 5th in offensive rushing yds, and 2nd in defensive rushing yds. This tells you they are a running team with a tough defense.

    In the LA Rams game, McVay and the Rams wanted to eliminate the 49ers from playoffs all together. They were determined and they jumped out to a 17-0 lead late in the second quarter. Jimmy G came from behind to overcome a 17 point lead to win in overtime. He was 23-32 (71.9%) and threw for 316 yds and threw the game tying TD with less than a minute in the game. He led four key drives including the game winning FG drive.

    Jimmy G also beat the Cowboys and they are a tough team. Last week on ESPN, former HoF WR Michael Irvin predicted a win and cited several reasons: (1) Dak Prescott was a better QB, (2) the Cowboys were number one in points scored, (3) Number one in total offensive yards, (4) Cowboys were a +14 in turnovers and (5) Jimmy G is a bad QB. Even when you cite reasons, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be right. That’s why games aren’t played on paper.

    Look at Jimmy G’s win record, he is 33-14 which is 70.2% winning percentage in the regular season, and he is 31-14 as a 49ers starter. Jimmy G is now 3-1 in the postseason which is a 75% winning percentage. Is Jimmy G the scapegoat even when they win???

    Dak Prescott’s win record is 53-32 (62.4%) winning percentage and 1-3 in the postseason (25%) winning percentage. He made $87M this year with includes a $60M bonus. His base salary will be $31.5M. Tom Brady made $72M this year. I guess the 49ers contract negotiator is better than his Cowboys counterpart.

    Reviewing the leaders (QB) stats, team stats, opponents stats, head to head meetings, box scores, and history can help someone evaluate and predict the outcome, but nothing is guaranteed. Michael Irvin’s prediction was wrong along with a whole bunch of other people. On any given Sunday, anyone can win.

    In my opinion, the 49ers have a good chance to win against Green Bay because Jimmy G is winning QB, and the 49ers have a very good running attack, average passing game (only because HC Shanahan features the run game), and a great front seven, especially the D-Line led by Bosa. Also, Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 in postseason against the 49ers, and Jimmy G is 2-1 against the Packers. In the loss this year, Jimmy G led the 49ers to a come from behind TD drive that gave them the lead 28-27, but with 37 seconds left, Aaron Rodgers marched down the field from the GB 25 to the SF 33 and kicked the game winning field goal (final score of 30-28).

    Moreover, Green Bay might win if Aaron Rodgers has the ball last and down by less than a TD. The defensive backfield and the positioning of the defense has allowed the opposing QB to drive their team easily down the field in the second half of games. With 32 seconds left, Dak Prescott moved the Cowboys down the field from the Dallas 20 to the SF 24 as time ran out.

    The 49ers need to improve on their halftime coaching adjustments. There have been seven games where the opposing team made halftime adjustments and outscored the 49ers in the second half: Lions, Cardinals, Colts, Seahawks twice, Bengals, and Titans. Can someone explain why we get outscored in the second half?

    Since Davante Adams scorched the 49ers DBs for 12 catches and 132 yds, can we double team him and zone everyone else? If the Rams beat the Bucs and the 49ers win, can we double team Cooper Kupp? Can the 49ers make next game adjustments?

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