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“Game manager” is good for Jimmy G

All Jimmy Garoppolo does is win

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

One of the worst insults you can throw at a quarterback is “game manager.” It suggests a talentless, careful, dull Q.B. who tries to win through caution.

Screw that. Jimmy Garoppolo is a game manager, and I love it.

He’s not bombing it all over the field, freelancing on broken plays, or throwing crazy bombs while falling that evade the C.B.’s eager hands by inches for a touchdown.

Nope, all he does is win. The guy is 14-2 as a starter, and 7 of those games were with a bad team. Eight were on the road.

Garoppolo steps up and does exactly what his team needs him to. His Q.B. rating is highest in the fourth quarter, highest in close games. Of his games this year, his rating was highest against the L.A. Rams, their toughest opponent.

The Niners this year are 3 for 4 on fourth down and 37 for 82 on third down (45.1%, compared to the Patriots’ 40.7%).

Garoppolo does the little things fans don’t see, like rally his teammates. Says a few quiet words to buck up a guy who just blew a play. Carefully watches the situation, quickly decides what needs to happen, and does it.

What he doesn’t do is make it all about him being a star. I wrote a column last week called “No heroes, no divas” about the selflessness of this team. That confused some people who said, “Hey! There are lots of heroes on this team!” Which is true, so let me explain.

I’m using “hero” in the sense of one person who demands to put the team on their shoulders, the diva who needs to be the focus. That’s a great story for the media, but it’s not how you win football games. Real heroes arise spontaneously and randomly among a bunch of cooperating teammates, as opposed to the kind of cowboy Liz Phair sang about in the song “Soap Star Joe:”

He’s just a hero in a long line of heroes,

looking for something attractive to save.

They say he rode in on the back of a pickup.

And he won’t leave town till you remember his name.

Look at Jalen Ramsey, who is undeniably a great talent at cornerback, maybe the NFL’s best. He demanded a trade because he wanted to play more man-to-man coverage so that he could shut down the best receiver on the other team.

I can understand wanting that challenge, but it’s selfish. Ramsey abandoned his team, claiming a highly dubious injury that disappeared as soon as they agreed to trade him. He has only won two games this year, losing two and sitting out three — so that he can be the focus of everybody’s attention.

Stephon Gilmore? He’s a game manager at C.B. Just does his job with as little fuss as possible, drawing no attention to himself. I’d take him over Ramsey any day of the week.

That’s how Jimmy G. plays quarterback. Like second rate talents Trent Dilfer, late-career Peyton Manning, 2017 Nick Foles. Guys who didn’t throw passes any flashier or more often than the situation demanded. Guys who had mediocre stats — and won Super Bowls.