Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have many highlight-worthy plays in the 2019 season, but there are numerous occasions of him showing a very high-level understanding of key quarterback traits each game. This article looks to illustrate some of those traits by looking at some of his best plays of the season.
Throw No. 1- Week 9 VS the Cardinals
This is a great example of eye manipulation pic.twitter.com/L8H7gwr26M— alex byrne (@Abyrne44) April 28, 2020
On third and 11 in a one-score game with four minutes remaining, the 49ers needed a big-time play from Garoppolo.
The Cardinals show Cover 1 man, but drop into a variation of Tampa-2.
The 49ers are using a variation of ‘doubles.’ Doubles are simply the same routes from the two outside receivers, a middle read from an inside receiver, and then check-downs from the back and tight end.
In this variation, the outside receivers are running swirl routes, which are essentially corner comebacks.
This is the play that was used pic.twitter.com/l9cN14aCR8— alex byrne (@Abyrne44) April 28, 2020
Kendrick Bourne is running the middle read, and when he sees the mike linebacker drop to the deep middle, he breaks his route off underneath him. This route is attacking the hook area of the field, which is essentially the bottom of the hashes to the top of the hashes.
Emmanuel Sanders’ swirl route is attacking the curl area of the field, which is essentially the bottom of the hashes to the top of the numbers.
These two routes put the hook-curl defender in a bind as there are two receivers he is responsible for. However, as the routes are 15 yards downfield, he would be able to make a play on the ball if he sat in-between the routes (midpoint).
Garoppolo knows this, and thus uses his eyes to move him towards Bourne, and thus opening up Sanders. The defender gets manipulated as he was reading Garoppolo. Jimmy then delivers the ball accurately while under pressure for a key first down.
Throw No. 2- Week 9 VS the Cardinals
This is amazing ball placement and anticipation from Jimmy pic.twitter.com/8G3kRZ2mlV— alex byrne (@Abyrne44) April 23, 2020
Kyle Shanahan, for some reason, decides to use a full slide 7-man protection. This puts George Kittle one-on-one against Chandler Jones, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Kittle does a great job, but this is an unfavorable matchup for any offense, even if you have Kittle.
April 28, 2020
The Cardinals are strongly indicating man coverage due to their pre-snap alignments. They indeed do play man coverage, and specifically, Cover 1 robber.
Garoppolo quickly sees that Sanders has outside leverage on his bench route, which is essentially an out route that drifts slightly upfield. Garoppolo throws the ball five yards before Sanders makes his break. This results in the ball being there right as Sanders comes out of his break. This is elite level anticipation
The ball placement is also perfect as it leads Sanders away from the defender, making it easier for him to gain yards after the catch.
Throw number 3- NFC divisional round vs. the Vikings
Garropolo’s five best throws of the season- in no particular order— alex byrne (@Abyrne44) April 28, 2020
This play illustrates the downside of using a robot technique pic.twitter.com/CvFP8fw59i
Shanahan calls a bootleg on this play. The only receivers running a route on this play are Deebo Samuel, who is running a high corner/circus route, and Sanders, who is running a deep cross.
It’s definitely zone pre-snap as the Vikings had a corner over Kyle Juscyk, and nobody followed his shift. As the middle of the field is closed, and there is a safety in the box, it’s very likely Cover 3 sky- which is cover with a safety covering one of the curl-flat zones.
The Vikings do indeed play Cover 3 sky.
Anthony Barr uses a ‘robot technique’ on this play. This means that he turns around and runs to cover a likely dig or crossing route. This technique is a key part of most team’s ‘boot rules’ as there is usually a crossing route when there is a bootleg. The downside of this technique is that the defender has his eyes to the quarterback, and thus can’t decipher his intentions.
Garoppolo sees the defender with his back turned and throws it out in front of Sanders. This is great recognition from Jimmy as it looks like Sanders is covered, but the defender has no chance if he can’t see the throw coming.
Throw No. 4- Week 5 vs. the Browns
Throwing a bender vs cover 6 pic.twitter.com/3A8SqTbsb9— alex byrne (@Abyrne44) April 28, 2020
The Browns are using cover six on this play. Cover six is also called quarter-quarter- half as there are two deep quarter defenders, and one deep half defender.
Kittle is running a seam read route, which is a seam route if the middle of the field is closed, but turns into a post route if it’s open. Kittle sees that the middle of the field is open, and thus breaks to the post.
Garoppolo is reading the mike linebacker. He initially opens up towards Kittle, indicating that he will carry kittle down the seam. However, he passes him off.
Garoppolo sees this and instantly throws it to Kittle. He places the ball perfectly, giving Kittle an easy touchdown catch. This was elite level processing from Garoppolo.
Throw No. 5- Week 14 vs. the Saints
April 30, 2020
The 49ers are on the Saints’ 6-yard line. The Saints are essentially using cover 4/quarters.
Kendrick Bourne is using the same swirl route mentioned earlier. Bourne would be isolated on the outside quarter defender, and would thus be in a great position on his swirl route as the defender is leveraged heavily outside. However, the inside quarter defender results in Bourne being essentially bracketed.
Garoppolo realises this and decides to move him with his eyes. As it’s spot drop zone coverage, the inside quarter defender has his eyes on Garoppolo, and thus he moves away from Bourne, creating a one-on-one.
Garoppolo places the ball high and inside. This is perfect placement as it allows Bourne to box the defender out.
This was great eye manipulation and ball placement from Jimmy and is what is necessary for the red zone.