Jimmy Garoppolo. The most sensitive subject among San Francisco 49ers fans. You can’t discuss Jimmy G without someone coming to his defense, even if you aren’t implying anything bad. The 49ers starting QB threw for the fourth-most yards in franchise history in his first full season as a starter. There are a lot of parts to Jimmy’s game that leads you to believe the 49ers can win it all. We don’t predict San Francisco winning 13 games if the team’s quarterback wasn’t competent.
49ers general manager John Lynch spoke to NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco to discuss where Garoppolo must improve for the team to reach their ultimate goal. Lynch said:
“I think taking care of the football. I mean, I think that’s something. But that’s a fine line. Kyle doesn’t teach guys to play safe. He wants them, as he says, to let it rip. So, being able to find that fine line where you continue to let it rip. But I think that’s where that experience, just the playing time, having played a lot, will come to prove invaluable for him because you’ve seen things before, and you won’t be fooled.
We know that it will only get better. His physical skills are—I really believe—are elite. I believe they’re extremely underrated. He’s one of the great natural throwers in this league, I believe, and I’m just excited to see it continue to grow. He’s got to put the work in. I think the thing that’s so exciting is he knows that there’s a ton of room for improvement, and he embraces that. He takes a lot of heat for a guy who had excellent numbers and brought his team to the Super Bowl last year.”
The “Kyle doesn’t teach guys to play safe” line is key. When it mattered most in the Super Bowl, Jimmy was unsure of where to go with the ball. I’m not saying Garoppolo is responsible for the loss. I watched the fourth quarter last weekend, and from an execution standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that had worse execution in a quarter—blown blocks. Receivers were running the wrong routes. Quarterback not making throws. Quarterback playing indecisive. Head coach not having a great read on the flow of the game. It was Murphy’s Law for the Niners.
What I’m looking for in Jimmy moving forward is him “letting it rip” consistently. As Lynch said, Jimmy G has elite traits. His ball placement is up there with the best of them. The issue is, as Lynch said, taking care of the ball, and that starts with decision making. Too often, there were throws underneath last year where Jimmy was lucky the defense didn’t have a turnover. It’s not fair to reference Garoppolo’s TD/INT ratio but ignore all of the misses, so I’m glad Lynch brought that up above.
I’m also curious to see if Shanahan gets Jimmy on the move more this year now that he’s a year removed from injury. The rollout game is a big part of Kyle’s offense, and Garoppolo is quite good at making throws on the run and executing in general. The team is good enough to win 13 games. Will Jimmy be good enough to put them over the hump?