Jimmy Garoppolo is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his nine-year NFL career, posting numbers throwing the ball downfield that are unprecedented during his tenure with the 49ers. Garoppolo currently has a 4.8 percent big-time throw rate, which is nearly double what it was in his 2019 season, where he quarterbacked the 49ers on a super bowl run.
Garoppolo has shined, in particular, pushing the ball into the intermediate area of the field on passes with a depth between 10-19 yards. On those intermediate-level throws, Garoppolo has an 8.5 percent big-time throw rate, which is the third highest among all qualified quarterbacks in the NFL this season.
One area that this improvement has translated to has been the ability to move the sticks on third down in obvious passing situations. Garoppolo is throwing the ball in these situations with a level of conviction that, frankly we have never seen from him, even during the great stretches of play he has put together throughout his career.0
In Sunday night's win over the Chargers, Garoppolo converted 57 percent of the 3rd & 8 or longer situations the 49ers opted to throw the ball in. Here were Garoppolo’s numbers against the Chargers on 3rd & 8 plus, courtesy of AP Sports Josh Dubow:
4 first downs
That included this conversion on a backside dig to George Kittle on 3rd & 12 with the 49ers facing a double-digit deficit.
It was the kind of throw that alters a game entirely, as the 49ers were able to keep a drive alive that would ultimately result in a touchdown and allow them to head into halftime down just one score with the opportunity to take the lead upon receiving the second half kickoff.
This performance was not just isolated to last night either, as Garoppolo has converted the first down on 45.2 percent of his passes on 3rd & 8 or longer this season, which is the second-best in the entire NFL, trailing only Patrick Mahomes, who is at 46.9 percent.
Ideally, the 49ers won't put themselves in a position where they have to convert third and long frequently, but for now, they can take some solace in the fact that when they opt to throw in those situations, their quarterback is converting them nearly half the time and at a rate that is exceeding every other quarterback in the NFL minus the guy who appears to be running away with the MVP award this season in Mahomes.