Every year, Mike Sando puts out his quarterback rankings made up of four tiers. This year, you can find them at The Athletic. In the sixth annual rankings, they aren’t just based on Sando’s thoughts; they are made up of 55 coaches and executives from around the league.
Last year, Jimmy Garoppolo started in Tier 2. This year, he’s down a tier after his injury. Before we get into what was said about the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback, here’s the description for Tier 3:
A Tier 3 quarterback is a legitimate starter but needs a heavier running game and/or defense to win. A lower-volume passing offense makes his job easier.
Some of the other quarterbacks in Tier 3 include Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Eli Manning. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Garoppolo comes in at No. 19 on the list, and fourth in the tier:
Tier 2 votes: 15 | Tier 3 votes: 31 | Tier 4 votes: 9
Garoppolo’s latest injury knocked him from the bottom of the second tier deep into the third. The voters who liked his upside one year ago still liked his upside, but they weren’t as willing to bet on it until Garoppolo proved he had staying power.
“He is really accurate, he is smart and he is athletic, but he hasn’t played a lot of football, and you see it at times,” a GM said. “I just think he’s got everything if he can stay healthy. It sounds like he will have a better cast this year, and he’s got the coach.”
The impact Garoppolo made on the 49ers during the 2017 season still stood out to voters from teams that faced San Francisco at that time.
An offensive coordinator cited another game from 2017, when Garoppolo led a late comeback against the playoff-bound Titans.
“There was 1:10 left and they had no timeouts. They needed a field goal, and he took it right down the field,” this coordinator said. “He is accurate, and he has a strong-enough arm. He is mobile enough to make plays outside the pocket when he needs to. And in high-pressure situations, doing that against a playoff team, I said, ‘This guy has a chance.’”
OK, but what about the injuries?
“Injury does not mean he is worse,” a quarterbacks coach said. “His skills are the same. He needs to stay healthy and all those things will show.”
“Everybody was walking a little taller because he was there,” is a great quote. That tells you teams that face the 49ers know Garoppolo instills confidence in the team. That’s what you want from your quarterback, aside from the obvious physical tools.
I’m a little surprised there’s no mention of the start to the 2018 season. I wonder if Garoppolo and the teams start to the season had something to do with his slip from Tier 2 to Tier 3 as well. This is just to give us an idea of what the league thinks of Garoppolo. They’re still high on him, but want him to play a full season. We all do.