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49ers in Five: Jimmy Garoppolo wants to throw deeper down the field

“The more freedom you have as a quarterback, obviously you play better”

Everything about the team that you need to know in around five minutes

Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been back as the starting quarterback for very long, but he’s made sure to express one thought multiple times since his return: Forget the Jimmy Gimmies. Instead, he wants to chuck the ball down the field.

One of those most common criticisms of Jimmy Garoppolo has been that most of his passes go to one particular area of the field - short and over the middle. As a result, last year he was 42nd in terms of air yards per attempt, and in case you forgot, the NFL has 32 teams.

After the 49ers beat the Seahawks on Sunday, Jimmy was asked if he was happy about throwing the ball deeper when he came into the game.

“Ecstatic. Yeah, it just felt good. We were talking earlier. It kind of felt like 2017, where you just go out throwing, and make plays. That’s what I like to do. It’s different than what we usually do around here, but sometimes you need to do that.”

In his media session yesterday, he was once again asked about throwing down the field, and Garoppolo doubled down.

“I’d love that. Yeah, there’s a lot of things that go with that, obviously, but yeah, I love doing that stuff. In ‘17, there was a freedom where me, the receivers, tight ends, we had a good chemistry going. And when you get that with offensive skills and a quarterback, it makes for a tough offense.”

Does he think he’ll have that same freedom the rest of the season?

“I don’t know, that’s a fair question. I think we’ll see that as we go forward, but I don’t know, the more freedom you have as a quarterback, obviously you play better, you’re more confident and good things will happen.”

The use of the word freedom in both answers was surprising because it implies he was somehow being restrained in the other seasons. Jimmy doesn’t usually stray anywhere near comments that can be construed as head coach criticism. These don’t necessarily fall in that category either, but they do seem to be a request, at minimum.

For reference, just 8.4% of Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass attempts traveled 20-plus air yards last year. That ranked 27th out of the 30 quarterbacks who attempted at least 300 passes, according to TruMedia.

It will be interesting to see if there’s a noticeable difference in Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling on Sunday night. One of the big positives with Trey Lance under center was the idea that the passing game would hit more doubles and home runs instead of settling for singles. If the 49ers can get at least some of those extra base hits out of Jimmy Garoppolo, there will be a whole lot of happy Niners fans out there.

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!