With five games won in a row to add to his two winning starts in New England, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been nothing short of impressive. There’s not a doubt in my mind he’ll hit a low point in his career—all quarterbacks do—once defenses get more film on him, but it’s all about how he adjusts to those adjustments.
Well, this is one such example that defenses will write down. Cornerback Richard Sherman spoke to the press during mandatory minicamp, and provided an example of what just what defenses may look for when making the book on Garoppolo:
“You just need to read him—hand off ball; he’s letting it go. You have to be decisive when you make those decisions. If he takes his hand off the ball and doesn’t throw it, I think he’ll throw guys off, but when he takes his hand off the ball, you’ve got to be ready to break. ”
When I was breaking down the Kansas City Chiefs in our 49ers’ opponents series, I made a point of quarterback Patrick Mahomes having some success due to defenses not having much film on him. Once you accumulate starts, defenses begin putting a binder together of tendencies, audibles, and every little thing that quarterback does, and use that whenever they are facing that particular QB.
This is one of those things defenses will throw into the binder. As Sherman says, there’s not much they can really do about it given how lightning-fast Garoppolo’s release is, but if Garoppolo is getting ready to go deep, that could tip off defenders in the backfield to go execute a pick.
The good news is—this is something easily coachable and right now, Garoppolo isn’t really worried about tells in his game. He’s worried about diagnosing the playbook and learning all the lingo.
Yep, time for me to use golf as an analogy again: When you re-learn a golf swing, you don’t start doing hooks and trick shots immediately, you work on getting the swing down because of the new, sometimes awkward-feeling form, then you implement the rest of your game from there. Garoppolo can start adding that once he has progressions and Shanahan’s playbook down in the same manner. Simple pump fakes will smarten defenses up real quick, but these are the small nuances defenses catch onto that can lead to huge issues.
The good part is this isn’t really a bad habit, but something that can be easily rectified.
If, of course, it’s even an issue.