Kyle Shanahan’s best friend Chris Simms has been cycling through his top-40 quarterbacks in the NFL. On Tuesday, Simms released No. 22-19, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo landed at No. 20. Simms started with what he likes about Jimmy G:
- Incredible quick release
- Ability to throw accurate throws with “cock-eyed” feet in the pocket with “trash around him”
- Has good movement in the pocket to buy time
- Very accurate in the intermediate to short passes
- He can throw the ball from different arm angles
Simms moved onto the negatives:
- Head-scratching decision-making
- Lack of big-time, power throws— Simms said a lot of his throws are right down the middle of the field, but Johnny from high school can hit that too, and Simms isn’t overly impressed.
- Not a phenomenal athlete. Not going to run for you and get first downs.
- Below average down the field/power thrower
Simms said the last point is Jimmy’s number one issue. “As quick as his release is and how he doesn’t need to step into throws to make throws when the pocket is clean, and I need you to step on the pedal a little bit, the ball can flutter, it might not get there, it’s batted down. A lot of the times, it’s because he throws flat-footed instead of getting his feet underneath him or a hitch step involved. Those are some of the problems that lead to some of his negative plays on the field.”
Simms was asked if Kyle Shanahan is limited with Jimmy G under center:
“Probably. Kyle likes to throw the ball over the middle. Garoppolo can play-action pass, whip his head around, and get the ball out of his hands really quick, I would think with Shanahan, if you look at the results throwing the ball down the field and throwing the ball outside of the numbers, he’s a little underwhelming.
We saw in three playoff games teams go, we know you like to throw the ball over the middle of the field, and we saw three underwhelming games in the playoffs because of that.”
Simms co-host chimed in and said the 49ers were running the ball effectively in the first two games, which Simms admitted was correct, but responded:
“Don’t forget this, in the divisional playoff game against the Vikings; they weren’t running the ball like madmen until they realized Garoppolo had thrown about three passes that should have been intercepted that were dropped. Then Shanahan was like, ‘okay, I’ve seen enough for today. Let’s keep running the ball.’
Listen, the 49ers obviously, obviously, didn’t love Garoppolo’s play from last year, or else they wouldn’t have flirted with the Tom Brady conversation. John Lynch has come out and said they thought about it. Well, they thought about it because, I thought, Brady’s better than Garoppolo at this point. I don’t know in two or three years from now, but I think that speaks volumes in itself the fact that they were thinking about that. I would push back and say it’s really weird to have those thoughts [about acquiring Brady] when your team was just in the Super Bowl with that quarterback, and he’s young and just about to be in the prime of his career. There’s a little weirdness on both sides of that conversation.
I heard Shanahan say last week he thinks Jimmy has the ability to be a top-5 quarterback in football. I agree with that, but, just like we talked about, in the playoffs, or some key third downs in the Super Bowl—hey, George Kittle’s wide open and it’s a first down, and maybe you win the game, and it’s over. I don’t know why, but he wasn’t looking at Kittle. I know those plays, and he’s the first read, but he didn’t go there, and I don’t know why.”
That was a lot to digest from Simms. Garoppolo’s quick release allows him to make throws with bodies around him that very few quarterbacks in the NFL can make. I also think his ball placement and pocket movement are why Shanahan believes Jimmy can be a top-5 QB. He needs to become more consistent, but there is plenty of 2019 tape that leads you to believe Garoppolo can be “the guy” moving forward. I don’t agree with Simms’s take on Jimmy being a bad athlete or a guy that won’t run and get you first downs. Jimmy’s mobility in the pocket will be the reason he’s starting in the NFL for multiple years. He’s very creative and knows how to buy as much time as he needs.
Simms came off harsh, but most of his areas of opportunity for Garoppolo to improve were spot-on. Fans will skip right past the bad games and pretend they never happened. The deep passing stats shouldn’t be taken at face value as there are receivers running wide open. I can name a handful of throws off the top of my head, which was under-thrown and has potential touchdowns. I’m not sure if it’s an arm strength issue or a timing issue, but it’s an issue. I think the biggest takeaway is that this is coming from the horse’s mouth, and that horse is the play-caller for the 49ers.
If you listen to the podcast, Simms was blunt and not overly positive about Garoppolo. There aren’t 19 quarterbacks in the NFL better than Jimmy G. With that said if he doesn’t improve on some of the “weaknesses” listed, next offseason will be full of speculation.