SANTA CLARA — To understand Jimmy Garoppolo, compare him to former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, his complete opposite.
Smith is a safety-first quarterback. He plays quarterback like an experienced gambler plays poker. He always calculates the odds of success before making a move. He folds most of his hands. He takes no risks.
That’s why Smith has thrown no more than eight interceptions in a season since 2010, back when he played for the 49ers. Smith is a game manager. He doesn’t beat himself. But he rarely wins big, either.
Garoppolo is quarterback as gunslinger who takes big chances — think Brett Favre. Sometimes risk-taking backfires. Garoppolo took risks Sunday during the 49ers’ 24-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and beat himself. It was his first loss in the NFL. He threw three interceptions, including one on the final drive with the game on the line.
Garoppolo shoots from the hip, wants the action. He hates to throw the ball away. That’s why through just six starts with the 49ers — less than half a season — he already has thrown eight picks.
“I have mixed emotions about it,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday about Garoppolo’s audacity.
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