49ers Rewind: Is Jimmy Garoppolo the sharpest he’s ever been?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Jimmy Garoppolo has played at a high level for the 49ers this season. In fact, no quarterback in the NFL has been able to match what Garoppolo has pulled off over the last eight weeks.

During the last eight games dating back to San Francisco’s victory in Chicago, Garoppolo has posted a passer rating over 90 in each contest. Aaron Rodgers leads a quartet of quarterbacks including Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Burrow and Kirk Cousins who are closest to what Garoppolo has accomplished during this stretch. Those four have been able to achieve a rating of 90 or better five times.

While Garoppolo deserves credit for his play, the health of the players around him also has played a role in his recent performance.

“Jimmy hasn’t been much different to me all year,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan after Sunday’s contest.

“I think we’ve gotten better around him throughout the year. I think we’ve gotten more continuity on the offense. I think that with the skill positions and tight ends they’ve gotten healthier and been out there more consistently than they were at the beginning of the year. When you get to string weeks together from a quarterback and some of the guys you’re throwing to, I think you usually improve, and you just get more consistent. I think that’s what we have struggled with, is consistency. Guys getting a little better health and then us just committing to the run a lot better than we did at the beginning of the year and getting more results out of that to me helps everybody on offense.”

Turning them away

In San Francisco, the talk is always about the offense. This goes all the way back to when the team was winning its five Super Bowls.

This makes it easy to overlook the role the defense played in the victory over Atlanta.

Despite playing without two starters, the 49ers’ defense found a way to force three turnovers on downs inside their own 10-yard line. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in the last 40 years in which a team was able to accomplish this.

Fred Warner, Arik Armstead, Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, and Marcell Harris were key to the strong defensive effort to repeatedly turn Atlanta away.

The sack attack

Coming off a knee injury that limited him to only 68 snaps in 2020, nobody could have predicted the type of season that Nick Bosa has put together.

Bosa recorded his 15th sack of the season against Arizona, putting him only 4.5 sacks behind Aldon Smiths for most in 49ers history.

Like Steph Curry with the Warriors, even when Bosa isn’t getting to the quarterback his presence on the field is making things easier for his teammates.

This offseason the 49ers brought in Samson Ebukam and Arden Key to help bolster their pass rush. San Francisco’s defensive staff made the move to get the duo more involved in the defense following a season-ending injury to Dee Ford.

Over the last eight weeks, Ebukam and Key have combined for 7.5 sacks. When Ebukam registered a sack on Matt Ryan to open the second half, it marked the first time in his career that he’s been credited with at least .5 sack in back-to-back games in his career.

Key was primarily an edge rusher during his time with the Raiders, however, San Francisco moved him inside and it’s paid off. Coming into the year, Key had recorded a total of three sacks in his career. Against Atlanta, Key recorded his fifth sack of the season.

Injury updates

Rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga has a knee sprain and will continue to be evaluated with the hope that he can play on Thursday night. Fellow safety Jaquiski Tartt suffered a sprained ankle against Atlanta. He missed only two plays and is day-to-day.

Nick Bosa was dinged while making a tackle on Cordarrelle Patterson in the third quarter. He was checked for a concussion and cleared the protocol. The team will check on him today as well.

The 49ers are holding out hope that Azeez Al-Shaair and Elijah Mitchell will be able to play on Thursday night. Of the two, Al-Shaair appears to be the closest to returning.

With their physical style of offense, having Mitchell available to take a few carries and provide fresh legs could prove to be a big benefit if he is able to go against Tennessee.

One player who will not be back any time soon is cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. According to Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers would be fortunate to have Moseley back in time for their final game of the season against Los Angeles.  

This article has 37 Comments

  1. Right now I’m more interested if the “free” local broadcast will no longer be available for the 49er’s Thursday Night game. Anyone know? In the past it has always been on a “free” channel in the Bay Area. Comcast NFLN is showing it as subscription only.

    1. I think most of the Thursday games have been on Fox? The last Thursday night 49er game that was televised was week 1 against the Seahawks when I was in 5th grade.

      1. The Fox contract for this season’s Thursday Night games ended last week according to comments made during that broadcast. In years past, when the NFLN carried the Thursday Night game on their own, the local markets (49ers and Titans in this case), would get the game free. It looks like it will be necessary to sign up for the Comcast NFLN package to get this weeks 49er game.

        I hope I’m wrong.

        1. Whine,
          In the age of fake news and rampant misinformation on the Internet, it always worthwhile to repeat factual, accurate statements :)

        2. Thanks for the help. Either my Comcast directory wasn’t updated when I checked or I had an 88 year old moment. I hope we all enjoy a win Thursday.

  2. I swear the last drive of the Seahawks game on 1st and 20 was deep out to Aiyuk was the best pass I have ever seen Jimmy throw.

  3. Jack,
    Do you believe JG is improving his trade value? If he continues to play at his current level is there any chance of the 49ers getting a 1st round pick for him?

    1. Sorry Coach, just too much tape on him that isn’t good enough to justify a 1st. Between past injuries and not being able to hit passes outside the numbers as well as deep downfield, it’s hard to justify spending a first. That doesn’t even weigh in his starter salary. Of course the Rams have shown the league draft picks don’t matter, but I’m not certain everyone is buying it. I’m thinking a 3rd at best, but would happily settle for a 4th.

      Not sure who would want him- New Orleans, Philly, Denver, Washington? Of those teams only Washington makes any sense because they have a solid defense in place and the ability to win now if the QB play improves.

      Deshaun Watson is also likely on the market in the off-season, someone who Denver should be targeting.

    2. I’ll take a shot it.
      Jimmy G is a proven mid-career starter with an excellent win-loss record who has played for two of the best coaches in the league. His strengths and weaknesses are well known. IMO, such a player at the most important position in football is definitely worth a first-round pick, especially in a draft year without standout college QBs. Since the price is determined by the buyer and seller, there need to be QB-hungry team who can afford to pick up his $26M and and with whom Jimmy is willing to sign a new contract.

  4. The price of everything is determined by an informed seller and an informed buyer and none of us on here is either one. When we got him from the Patriots he was a backup and a second round pick and it was considered a bargain we got him for only a second. Surely he’s still worth at least that. He will likely go to a team with a poor record so it could be a high second but it’s a supply and demand situation and there are a lot of teams whose starting quarterback is way worse than Jimmy so first round pick is not out of the question.

    1. It’ll be an interesting conversation around here for sure when we don’t get a first or second for him next year.

      I’m sorry- I love the athlete/competitor/person. But you can’t overvalue a QB that hasn’t consistently been able to make throws outside the numbers. And while I don’t expect him to be able to throw deep consistently, you have to force the defense to honor the home run. Jimmy hasn’t ever done anything consistently in both regards to worry defensive coords.

      Given the limitations, teams can clog the middle of the field and try and stop the run as well. In the playoffs you will see this exact strategy. He’s been known to throw INTs when LBs play zone over the middle. It will all come down to whether Shanny’s play action scheme can disguise the play long enough to keep the LBs and up-Safeties out of position long enough to throw his short darts to stationary receivers open in the zone.

      Can he beat teams with throws to the sidelines and downfield? Well his history hasn’t shown that. You can’t limit yourself to playing darts all day out of the backfield. Timing routes, deep routes, out routes- all of these matter. And I don’t count a couple of successful executions of these plays over an 6-8 week span as any type of confidence that he can do it consistently.

  5. I love how Colin Cowherd defends JimmyG – Someone needs to tell him that ship has sailed – Jimmy is cool but not a baller.

    This team needs a baller – a true threat at QB – just imagine the weapons on offense with a dynamic QB.

    I support having him start next season finish his contract or trade him middle of next season – more Trey on the bench is great for the Franchise.

    ARodger was on the bench longer.

    I have no faith in JimmyG against the Titans pass rush – i just pray they run – run – run

  6. Is Jimmy Garoppolo the sharpest he’s ever been?

    NO – He was sharpest first 5 games as a 49er in 2017.

    @Jack – Look at the numbers not your fantasy feelings.

    1. Given that defenses hadn’t adjusted to his strengths in 2017, I would say his current success is much more impressive.

      Much like a pitcher in baseball no one has seen before come up from the minors. Until opposing batters have had a few cycles of at-bats against him, the numbers look great.

      Teams have been basically daring him to throw outside, downfield, and timing patterns. We’ll see if he improves in these areas but I don’t have my hopes up. He does seem to be playing with a lot of confidence- reminiscence of the confidence he displayed when he first took the starting job.

    2. You don’t think Jimmy looks the sharpest hes looked in year 4 of this system? You think he looked sharpest in his first 5 games in the system?

      1. Yea – that is JimmyG’s DNA – When the pressure to perform is at the highest he makes quick and good decisions 90% of the time.

        When the focus is without pressure – he sucks !!! – Kinda like a boring surgeon who turns interesting when the body is on the operating table.

        New team – new fans – the pressure that first season was huge

        1. I would substitute health for pressure. When he’s healthy he’s pretty good. The evidence is 2017, 2019 and since coming back from the calf injury this year. Nobody’s very good when they are injured.

          1. A.Rodgers played with 9 toes and still racked up MVP votes – Tom Brady won a Super Bowl with a new team while injured

            – JimmyG can’t do that

            1. Tom Brady won a Super Bowl with a new team while injured

              And Tom Brady looked pretty average serving up that goose-egg the other night when surrounded by subpar playmakers. Whats this knock on Jimmy that he needs a team around him? Can say that for pretty much every NFL QB.

              1. Can say that for pretty much every NFL QB. = Not every QB

                These QB’s can perform at a high level without good talent around them:

                Rodgers
                Lamar
                Carr
                Deshaun
                Wilson

                And Tom Brady looked pretty average serving up that goose-egg the other night when surrounded by subpar playmakers

                not sure what your point is – we saw the same TB in NE – it not news he sucks with no talent – and I bet JimmyG would have been worse with no talent.

                Can you even imagine Jimmy without good WR’s or a running game ? –
                yes that is what I thought

              2. Oneniner. What is your point man? Every quarterback plays better when healthy and surrounded by talent. Common sense. It is a team sport after all. Would you like to argue whether the moon is round or not?

              3. The shape of the moon is that of an oblate spheroid, meaning it has the shape of a ball that is slightly flattened.

                common sense also dictates you pay attention to the evidence I provided – and dispute – don’t be be lazy using general talking points.

                Those 5 QB’s I mentioned can put up big numbers without great talent around them – right or wrong?

                Brady and Rodgers (older players) played hurt and still performed above average – right or wrong?

                You are allowed to use common sense to answer,,,,

              4. we saw the same TB in NE

                Let me remind you of a well known football pundit following one of Brady’s SB losses.

                You need to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot f–king throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.

                Even Giselle Bundchen knows common sense, the value of a quality supporting cast.

  7. Last year right before the draft I predicted the 9ers would get a 4th round pick for JG. During the last 4 or 5 weeks I changed my mind and predicted they could receive a 2nd. I now believe that if JG’s play continues to improve all the way into the playoffs (admittedly thats a big if) they may get a 1st. There are quite a few FO’s out there who make bad decisions on a regular basis. The other big off season trade I could see happening is Fred Warner for a 1st or if it is a late 1st then a 1st and a 3rd. I believe a LB duo of Greenlaw and Al-Shaair is as good if not better than Greenlaw and Warner. Those 2 trades could result in 2 firsts this year along with a 3rd or a 1st round pick this year along with one next year. Basically getting back all of the picks we gave up for Lance while clearing multiple millions from the salary cap.

    1. Coach, while on paper this might make sense, we all see how the players felt/feel about us trading Deforest Buckner to the Colts.

      Sometimes you have to keep the leaders to keep that winning dynamic in the locker room. I think Warner embodies everything Lynch and Shanny look for in an athlete and teammate. I think he’s worth every penny.

      1. I’m not advocating they trade Warner but Shanahan and Lynch will do what they feel is best for the club and the players will go long with it. Will they miss Warner? Sure but they all know it’s a business.
        It’s an interesting thought though. If I was running the club I’d have to give that some serious thought. If Al-Shaair is as good as he’s looked so far, it would be hard to pass on a 1st round pick and a large salary dump.

    2. F. Warner is not the kind of player you trade – and what do you need all this draft picks for?

      Isn’t it obvious now FA and 4-7TH round picks should be our focus ?

      At this point you are more likely to draft a BUST at pick 20-31.

      You will be reaching for a player at CB or WR at that point of the 1st round – and which current starter will this 1st rd pick take over from.

      Yes CB would be great but the gamble is not worth it

      1. Isn’t it obvious now FA and 4-7TH round picks should be our focus ?

        So a 5th rounder for Jimmy is better value to this team than a 1st or 2nd. Makes sense :)

        1. how you linked my comment to Jimmy – makes no sense

          the next 2 drafts should not be a do or die for the 49ers….

          Signing FA’s (like we did in the past signing D Sanders to an already built team) and spending more time scouting players drafted in 4 – 7th rounders who should get 1-2yrs on the bench = makes sense in terms of continuous building and managing the cap space.

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