We’ve spent an awful lot of time talking about Jimmy Garoppolo and his first start for the San Francisco 49ers and ... we’re going to do it some more. Following our film study of the 49ers’ sacks allowed and sacks earned, we’re going to take a look at something that doesn’t involve a quarterback getting pulverized: productive passing plays!
Garoppolo completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards and an interception. Explaining away interceptions can often be an exercise in frustration, but the play really was kind of silly and I’m not counting it against him. Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin both had solid performances catching the ball, with 92 yards and 99 yards, respectively.
For this film review, we’re going to study the coaches film of the most-productive passing plays to each of Kyle Juszczyk, Garrett Celek, Louis Murphy, Taylor and Goodwin. These aren’t necessarily the best plays or the most interesting, but rather simply the biggest gains for each player and why the play was successful.
I think the thing that has stood out to me has been Garoppolo’s timing and release. His quick throwing motion has been lauded in the past, but it really surprised me against the Bears. Let’s get to the film, shall we?
12:38 of 1st Quarter, 1st and 10 from 50: Garoppolo pass short left to Kyle Juszczyk for 16 yards (Eddie Jackson)
Fumbles aside, I’m pretty happy with Juszczyk’s output this season. I’d like to see more plays designed to get him the ball through the air. The effort he puts in to recover from a stumble early in this play, running from sideline to sideline, is impressive. It’s a simple play action that works quite well, as it freezes the linebacker that was likely supposed to follow Juszczyk across the field. The blockers all sold the play very well and Garoppolo was quick to throw the ball.
The only question is whether or not that pass should have gone to Garrett Celek, who is open and a few yards downfield of Juice. It’s not something I’ll pick at, however, given the guaranteed first down going to the fullback.
0:02 of 1st Quarter, 1st and 10 from SF 25: Garoppolo pass short middle to Marquise Goodwin for 20 yards (Chris Prosinski, Kyle Fuller)
The play action works well to get the defensive line moving in one direction, though I don’t think anybody at the second level was fooled. Fortunately for the 49ers, Goodwin and Garoppolo combined for a great play right in the middle of the zone defense. Goodwin sheds his defender and gets behind the linebacker, with several yards to go until the safety is in range. Garoppolo takes one look his way and drops that ball in over the linebacker.
It’s a high level throw, a good form catch and a smart play overall. I like Garoppolo getting the ball out so quickly. He’s not exactly pressured, but defenders are real close to him and the protection could break down at any second. Maybe the streaking receiver could have wound up open, but he looks more open than he actually was because the safety is already reacting to the ball thrown to Goodwin.
14:17 of 2nd Quarter, 1st and 10 from CHI 38: Garoppolo pass deep middle to Garrett Celek for 22 yards (Christian Jones)
I’ve been critical of Celek, but he does a very good job of cutting through the seam and catching a fell-thrown ball by Garoppolo. Once again, the pass is just over the linebacker, and the Bears have no real shot at breaking up the play. If Garoppolo’s release isn’t quite as quick, the safety might have been able to close enough to make that a dangerous throw. But it is quick.
One thing that really stands out in this play is the blocking from the offensive line Trent Brown and Joe Staley hold up very well, and the interior does a great job pinching and preventing all the defenders to engage, let alone get around them.
9:17 of 3rd Quarter, 1st and 10 from SF 25: Garoppolo pass short middle to Louis Murphy for 16 yards (Jones, Jackson)
Murphy was the target on the interception that went very poorly and he’s the target on this, a play that also is ... very risky. Garoppolo is hit hard by the player who gets past Brown, a rare sight these days. The hit is such and Garoppolo’s release is so quick that it took me a couple views to actually see the ball come out. He really flings that ball out there.
He probably shouldn’t have thrown it. He throws it because he thinks the linebacker is out of position — he is, but he apparently doesn’t see the safety closing fast. It’s nearly incomplete. It’s nearly intercepted, but Murphy makes a great catch off of Garoppolo’s lightning release.
2:17 of 4th Quarter, 3rd and 9 from SF 49: Garoppolo pass deep middle to Trent Taylor for 33 yards (Jackson)
This is another play where the offensive line holds up its end of the bargain. Staley loses containment on his guy, but he loses it in such a way that Garoppolo is never really in danger of getting hit. Brown and everyone else handle their business pretty well.
Kittle is open at the bottom of the screen, but he’s short of the marker and it’s a third down play. That said ... oh my God! The 49ers actually had three players past the first-down marker on a third-down passing play! It’s a miracle! A gosh dang miracle!
This play really showcases a lot of trust between Garoppolo and Taylor. Taylor’s man is close to him, but Garoppolo lets fly, throwing it to the other side of Taylor’s body. The other two receivers were also open enough for throws to be made, but Taylor’s guy starts to lose a step on him just before Garoppolo begins his throwing motion, and that’s enough to solidify him as the target.