Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t the sole reason the San Francisco 49ers lost the Super Bowl, but he does deserve some of the blame. That fourth and final quarter of play is enough to merit the 49ers taking a long look at their signal-caller.
For the record, I hold some of that fourth quarter on Garoppolo and a lot of it on Kyle Shanahan. Yes, Garoppolo was getting passes batted at the line, but his coach put him in quite possibly the worse situation to succeed.
And no, this is not a call for him to be benched or released. One year removed from an ACL tear, and he puts up the numbers he did in the most difficult offense in the NFL? Moving on now would be foolish. That said, the excuses will stop for 2020. I do think Garoppolo has the tools to be a top-5 quarterback in the NFL, and I think he can lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory. I’ve said this all year when I’ve compared his numbers, but if moments are going to cause that sort of turtling like Sunday night, that’s a problem. He might have good regular-season starts, but he’s paid that money to win championships in the fourth quarter — end of the story. Not a good three quarters and then take the night off. Four quarters.
And since I need to repeat myself on this one: I’m not saying he needs benched or released, I’m saying he has something to prove.
So 2020 will be a year. The year. He’s now had a few seasons in Shanahan’s offense, a full season of starting, and a solid postseason run. The question now is if he can take it to the next level. This tweet should tell you about where Garoppolo could go in 2020:
Matt Ryan under Kyle Shanahan...— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) February 3, 2020
Season 1: 7.5 yards per attempt
Season 2: 9.3 yards per attempt (NFL MVP)
Jimmy Garoppolo (only counting full seasons) under Shanahan...
Season 1: 8.4 yards per attempt
Season 2: ?
Progress here may be the defining 49ers story of 2020
Garoppolo turns that in for 2020, I’d say that’s a made year...just so much as he doesn’t shut things down in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl.
Garoppolo’s contract would only have a $2,800,000 dead money hit if cut before June 1 in 2021. Most of his guarantees are paid. He’d also have a $24,100,000 salary cap hit that year. 2020 will be a season to look at what he’s been doing and then evaluate if he is the long-term solution or if he has regressed.
If he isn’t the solution, 2020 will bring another possible party: Kirk Cousins. Cousins will be into his 30s, while Garoppolo will be 29 to start the season (and turn 30 in November). Shanahan had wanted Cousins all along, and Garoppolo’s strong 2017 play put an end to that narrative. Cousins will be 33 by the time the 2021 season rolls around, but if Shanahan was dead set on returning to Cousins, that would be his chance.
For the record, at that point, I doubt Shanahan would invest money in Cousins over Garoppolo. He might as well start fresh and draft a quarterback or see what Nick Mullens/C.J. Beathard has in the tank. Shanahan had a chance in 2017 to get one, and we know how that ended.
Regardless of how you look at it, Garoppolo is going to be the quarterback in 2020. To say or suggest otherwise would indicate someone wasn’t paying attention. It’s a big 2020 though, if Garoppolo finds himself shutting things down in the fourth quarter at a crucial moment, it might be time to see what’s out there.
If you want him gone in 2020, name me an alternative. One that put up better numbers than he did. I’ll wait. Things may have improved, but we still need to see more.
In the meantime, watch Pete Prisco and Mike Florio fight over this very subject. It’s good for the soul: