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Joe Staley: Jimmy Garoppolo is playing the best football of his career

“I don’t think he’s putting the pressure on himself that he did earlier in his career”

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Life is good for the 49ers right now. They’ve won two straight games, they’ve avoided major injuries to anyone for the second straight game week, and Jimmy Garoppolo is playing the best football of his career. At least, according to Joe Staley on KNBR earlier this week.

“Yeah, he is 100 percent [playing the best football of his career]. Yes, you can look at the weapons that he has around him and everybody always likes to say, ‘Oh, he’s just managing the situation and he doesn’t have to do anything. He doesn’t have to have the whole entire offense on shoulders.’

But even just talking to him [Sunday], he had a confidence about him. Because I don’t think he’s putting the pressure on himself that he did earlier in his career when he had got traded there, you got the contract. Jimmy probably felt the pressure of, ‘Hey, this is my team. I’m the franchise quarterback.’

And then last year, too, it’s like, ‘Hey, they drafted my replacement. This is chance to show them who I am, or other teams of auditioning for maybe a trade.’ There’s a lot of pressure that goes into performance on the field.

He just feels like he’s playing free. He’s letting the game come to him, he’s not trying to do too much. I think that, coupled with all the weapons he does have around him, you’re seeing the best version of what Jimmy can be as a quarterback.”

This actually matches up with something Staley told Niners Nation back in January about the turning point of the 2021 season.

“I think the Chicago Bears game was a huge turning point, not just for him but also the team. I think it was because Jimmy kind of said ‘F it.’ I think he was sick of having to look over his shoulder with the new situation. He was putting in too much time thinking about that, probably. It was weighing on him. ‘If I throw this pass, if I’m too aggressive, if I take a shot, am I going to get pulled?’

This is all just my own opinion. It looked to me that he kind of just said, ‘F it.’ I am just going to play as I can play, and be as aggressive and not care or worry about if I’m getting pulled or yanked or if a young kid is going to take my job. And I think from that point on he has been more aggressive.”

It’s easy to see why this situation might be a little less stressful for Garoppolo than last year when Trey Lance was waiting in the wings. With Lance gone for the season, Jimmy doesn’t have to worry about anything except the opponent that particular week.

Right now, the 49ers are playing very complimentary football. Jimmy has been consistently driving the ball down the field between the 20-yard lines and currently sports the lowest interception percentage of his career. The defense, meanwhile, can smother the other team, hold a small lead, or keep an opponent's lead from growing too large to be overcome. If this type of play continues, the 49ers will have a shot to win every game they play going forward.

Hear more about this and other stories in today’s 49ers in Five podcast. Our five-minute daily update gives you the latest news, best audio clips, and everything else you need to know about the team. Subscribe to the Niners Nation Podcast Network today, so you don’t miss an episode!