San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garopolo spoke with the media at length after Wednesday’s practice. He talked about the challenges Tampa Bay presents, the moment he realized he was “back,” the progress Matt Breida has made, and much more. Check it out.
This is going to be your 11th career start. What’s the anxious level for you to get this finally going after being away for a year?
“A lot of excitement. It’s been a long time coming, so it’s finally here, getting into the game-week schedule and everything and it’s good to be back.”
What are the kind of challenges that the Buccaneers give you?
“They do a couple different looks. They want to get right up in your face and put pressure on your receivers, skill-position guys overall and just make them make plays. So, I think we’ll have to handle that. They’re very talented up front, too, so they’re a good defense across the board.”
You obviously faced Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles when you were in New England. What did you learn from that and how much can you kind of take into this week?
“Yeah, you look back at that film, you try not to take it all into consideration, because different players, different schemes, all that stuff. But, it’s good to look back on that and kind of take some notes from that.”
What do you think the biggest hurdle was that you’ve had to overcome just in these past, I don’t know, since the injury?
“Probably, I don’t know. I can’t think of one specifically. I think there were mental hurdles, physical hurdles that both of them you’re trying to balance them and at the same time not think about it too much because you’re dealing with training camp and everything. I wouldn’t say there’s one specific thing, but yeah, there’s been plenty throughout all of training camp.”
When was the moment that you realized, “Okay, I’m back now, I don’t have to worry about the knee” and you can just focus on playing?
“Oh, the knee? That was, I mean, back in the OTAs I really stopped worrying it. It’s kind of one of those things you put out of your head. I have so many other things to worry about that you can’t really be worrying about that all the time.”
You mentioned the mental hurdles. Did you even know you were going over a mental hurdle?
“Not really. You kind of realize it after it’s happened, I guess. Like, going back to KC. After I left there, felt good. So, I think those things kind of just happen on their own.”
How would you assess how the receiver group has sort of evolved over training camp and where you think guys are at right now?
“I think those guys, they’ve been through a battle. Training camp was definitely a battle for those guys, putting a lot of pressure on them to perform. Also, they’re running a ton, all the yardage adds up. Those guys, they’ve been through a lot and they’ve been doing really well. Think we’ve got a good group of them, each kind of unique in their own way, and put them in the right spots to be successful.”
Because they are unique, are you still in that process of learning about WR Dante Pettis, learning about WR Deebo Samuel, you haven’t worked much with WR Jalen Hurd, just all the guys, is that still a process for you?
“Yeah, I think the trust process kind of never ends, especially with the quarterback and whoever the skill position is, tight end, receiver, whatever. I think once you do trust those guys and you know which routes they like, which routes they’re really good at, you kind of start favoring those.”
Do you do that consciously?
“I think it just kind of happens naturally. You don’t want to put too much thought into it and have it be fake.”
Does it make you feel more comfortable knowing that you have such a strong backfield and a much better receiver corps and coming back, being able to use them?
“Oh yeah, as a quarterback you love that. Just having those weapons at your disposal, you try to give them the ball in space and let them go be playmakers.”
What kind of progress has RB Matt Breida made in regards to the pass catching aspect of the game?
“His hands have never really been a question, it’s just he was never really asked to do that in college so it was kind of new to him. I think he’s come a long way, all those backs, they’re so unique in how they run routes, each one of them is a little different. Matt’s just, he’s so fast and explosive that if you can get him in space like that, it’s dangerous.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team has to control turnovers, that’s the biggest point you have to be dominant at Tampa Bay to get the win. Do you agree with that?
“Yeah, throughout this entire league, you win the turnover battle, you’re usually going to have a good chance to win.”
You recently said in practice sometimes that you attempt riskier throws than you would in a game just to see what you can do. Do you change your approach at all this week in practice given that the emphasis is “Don’t commit turnovers” this week?
“It’s not like just this week, every week is. I think, like I said before, the trust process, this is your time to do that, so if there’s an opportunity to throw the ball down the field and you give your guy a shot and he makes a play on it, you kind of notch that in your brain for later and move on. There’s a fine line, because you want to perform well, obviously, and execute the plays the right way, but you’ve still got to know who you can trust and who you can’t.”
How important is T Joe Staley as a leader behind the scenes and what was the process like for you becoming a leader and sort of, I don’t know if you guys ever talked about it, but what was that like with Staley?
“Joe’s always, I mean, he’s been naturally a leader, I think since I’ve gotten here, at least. He shows it on the field, he shows it in his work ethic, he comes in early, stays late. All the stuff that you would expect from a leader. Personally, I think I just try to come in a be myself. I think you can’t fake that type of stuff, especially in a locker room with 53 guys that you’re going to be with for the whole year. You don’t want to do things that aren’t natural, so I always just try to be myself and let those things happen.”
With Week 1 finally here, how ready are you to get past all the speculation and just get to football. How do you tune out the noise?
“Yeah, it’s been a long time coming, so I’m excited to get back out there. I don’t know, you can’t really listen to all that stuff. We’ve got so much going on with our stuff, mentally, physically, that you’re trying to deal with all that. It’s exciting to be back.”
Can you forecast ahead and say you guys are as successful as you want to be, what’s going to be the offense’s identity on why you’re successful?
“I think it’s a couple things coming together. Obviously, we’d like to be able to run the ball, start with that, and I think everything starts up front. Those guys play well up front, it gives us better opportunities on the outside to go and make plays and let the skill players do what they do.”
Kyle was just talking about how hard it is to go all the way across the country. You guys have back-to-back trips, you’re staying in Ohio. I don’t know how many of those trips you’ve made, but what are the challenges as a player trying to adjust for a long trip?
“Like, going to Tampa won’t be terrible. The flight, it is what it is, but that week we’ll be in Youngstown, it’s different for us. Your routine is a little thrown off, you’re staying in a hotel, so things change, but you kind of, I don’t know, adapt on the fly, I guess. I’ve done a couple of those before, especially from New England coming out to the West Coast, so you just try to go back to those and see what you did.”
Is that why there’s more emphasis now on like the sleep cycle and all that kind of stuff? How much do you put into that? How much value do you put into that?
“Oh, a ton. Sleep, especially. I never really thought about it until I got to the NFL, but so many people do these sleep studies and how it affects you on the field, in the classroom, walkthroughs, everything. Yeah, that’s a crucial part to our game.”
Do you have a set routine?
“Oh, yeah. Very.”
What is it?
“Exactly? I try for 9:30, I try for it, yeah. During the season, it’s a little tough sometimes, but yeah, I try for it.”
Is that one of the things that makes it hard to win on the road, it’s just harder to stick to your routine when you’re at a hotel, on the road, all those things?
“Yeah, I think that’s part of it. I think there’s a ton of things that go into on the road. The crowd noise, obviously, you’re in a different environment. Whatever it may be, but I think we have a good mentality on this team of just, you know, it’s us against everyone else there and we know that. I don’t know, it’s just kind of the mentality you have to have to win there.”
At the beginning of training camp, everybody said that Kyle Shanahan said really the time is now, you guys have got to start winning games, no excuses. How much pressure do you feel around that and how much pressure do you think there is in the locker room around that?
“Yeah, I think the pressure’s coming from ourselves. We have a pretty high standard in that locker room. Guys hold each other accountable. I think this year is more evident than ever since I’ve been here, it’s just we have the leaders, we have guys holding people accountable and taking charge. It’s trickling down, so I think it’s, we’re going to put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else is.”
What’s your approach on trying to prepare for a defense that’s mostly guys 24 and under? How do you try and game plan for that film-wise and trying to exploit that without being too confident?
“Yeah, well I mean, you have to take that into account. But, at the same time, you know, you’re going against a D-Coordinator, Todd Bowles obviously who’s tremendous, so you have to take all those things into account. We’re going in there with the right mindset I think, and like Kyle says, to dominate them.”