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ESPN ranks Jimmy Garoppolo as the 4th-worst QB in the playoffs

They reference deep passing as a big reason why

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

ESPN did an exercise where they went through each team and ranked the quarterbacks left in the playoffs. Seth Walder, the author who wrote the article, said he relied on a variety of advanced metrics and considered each QB in a vacuum. Some of the stats he cited were Total QBR, EPA, completion percentage over expectation, and ESPN’s predictive QB EPA rating — with a dash of his own judgment.

I try and stay away from quarterback stats for numerous reasons. First, stats don’t tell the whole story. We know that. It’s exaggerated when it comes to quarterbacks. First, these guys aren’t asked to do the same thing when you go from offense to offense.

So, comparing Mac Jones’ quarterback rating to Tom Brady’s is silly, knowing they’re asked to do completely different things for their offense.

Walder ranked Jimmy Garoppolo 11th, which is the fourth-worst. Here’s what he had to say:

Season at a glance: After the 49ers gave away a fortune to draft Trey Lance, it was unclear if Garoppolo would even be a 49er this season. Turns out, he was their starting quarterback and largely answered the call, finishing 14th in QBR, sixth in average net yards per attempt and ninth in CPOE.

Strength: Garoppolo’s outside-the-pocket numbers have been strong for years, and I think that’s because of success off designed rollouts in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system. In fact, he ranked second in QBR on designed rollouts and generated the most total EPA on those plays among all quarterbacks this season.

Weakness: Deep passing. It’s something Garoppolo doesn’t do often, and when he does, it’s inefficient. He threw passes of 20-plus air yards just 7% of the time, the second-lowest rate among passer-rating-qualified quarterbacks, behind only Daniel Jones. He ranked 26th in QBR on those throws.

What’s at stake for Garoppolo (via 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner): Garoppolo’s future in the NFL is at stake. No big deal, right? This is most likely his last ride in San Francisco before Lance takes the keys to the car next season. But Garoppolo has handled this situation well, and a strong postseason would not only strengthen his position in the trade market but also earn him a lucrative contract wherever he lands.

CPOE is a stat that shouldn’t be trusted. For example, it doesn’t account for drops. In fact, it docks the QB for a drop. In addition, CPOE loves Mac Jones, Tua, and Teddy Bridgewater, because it can’t decipher RPOs and check-downs. Those are some of its many flaws, and a reason I rarely, if ever, reference the stat.

It doesn’t feel like Shanahan has relied on as many bootlegs or moving Garoppolo outside of the pocket this season. Jimmy is better on the move when healthy than most realize, but I wouldn’t say designed rollouts are his strength.

Garoppolo’s at his best in two-minute situations. When people talk about his quick release, in my mind, it’s valuable for throwing when a defender is in your face. Those are Jimmy’s strengths.

The weakness listed is fair. Garoppolo’s deep throws always leave something to be desired and tend to come up short. Shanahan has tweaked the offense and compensated for Jimmy’s deep ball issues, and we haven’t seen the offense bogged down because of it.