Charvarius Ward has turned into one of the smarter free agent signings of the San Francisco 49ers. He was given the money based on what he could become rather than a single incredible contract year and boy, did he show up. Before the 49ers was the Kansas City Chiefs, and Ward played on the same Chiefs team that won Super Bowl LIV over the 49ers.
“Gameplan was to put the ball into Jimmy’s [Garoppolo] hands. I hate to say this. I hate to say it. Our gameplan was to put the ball into Jimmy’s hand. But Kyle Shanahan, he was just calling run after run. But for some reason in the 4th quarter they stopped running the ball and we kind of took over a little bit.
I don’t want to say too much about it because I’m part of the organization now. Going into the game we were extremely confident, but once y’all came out doing all that what y’all doing, we were like ‘Damn, these boys are kinda good. We gotta like man up and thud up.’ And that’s kinda like what we did in the fourth quarter.”
Yes, I know, too soon.
For many fans, they aren’t finding this surprising at all. It was obvious when the second half rolled around the Chiefs were daring the 49ers to throw. The most memorable flub, of course, is the deep route that would have potentially won the game, but Garoppolo overthrew Emmanuel Sanders. More maddening than that was Kyle Shanahan abandoning the run in the fourth quarter when it was working all game. Some of the pass plays worked, but the lack of runs, despite working, left many fans scratching their heads.
Then again, if the Chiefs were basically daring them to throw, there’s your answer. And that was what Garoppolo was paid to do: go win those kinds of games.
The Chiefs weren’t the only team to dare the 49ers to throw. In the 2019 and later seasons, the same gameplan was used by many teams in the league. This is led to oh, so many games made throwing the ball seem like pulling teeth. Sometimes Jimmy played well, sometimes he threw those head scratching picks.
Regardless, that gameplan probably won’t work anymore, no matter how much you want to compare Brock Purdy to Jimmy Garoppolo. Call him a game manager all you want, but at this point, it’s becoming apparent Purdy’s floor on the 49ers is 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo. Maybe higher. What’s Purdy’s ceiling? Who knows. We’ll get another glimpse in a week against the Baltimore Ravens’ No. 2 ranked defense. We’ve already seen Purdy carve up good defenses like the Dallas Cowboys so the Ravens will be a good litmus test for where he is.
The only question I ever had about Purdy was his ability to play a full NFL season. I raised an eyebrow when he got his concussion in Minnesota and it appeared to be further aggravated in the Cincinnati game (though it turns out the latter wasn’t necessarily the case). Purdy hasn’t sat out a game yet, so that raised eyebrow lowered itself back to normal.
In terms of ability, we’ve seen Purdy hit numerous deep throws. In fact he’s putting up the most accurate deep-pass season on record. This is in addition to the short game that Garoppolo made a career out of. Just look to the recent Seattle Seahawk game if you want a sample size. If the gameplan was to put the ball in Purdy’s hands, a team most likely would be punished for stacking the box, whereas Jimmy Garoppolo oftentimes struggled in those situations (he won some games too to be fair, New Orleans comes to mind).
Of course if a team wants to stop Purdy’s air mail, there’s always yards for Christian McCaffrey.