San Francisco 49ers: Don’t worry about Jimmy Garoppolo in the red zone

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers were 0-of-5 in red-zone trips last week versus the Chicago Bears. But quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has success here, and you shouldn’t worry if it’s going to be a trend.

Going 0-of-5 in the red zone usually spells a loss for most NFL teams, but the San Francisco 49ers still managed to pull off a 15-14 victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 13.

The Niners weren’t successful finding the end zone in only their second win of 2017 despite an offensive showing that netted 388 total yards and 23 first downs. And with newly minted starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo under center, the offense at least looked like an effective unit.

But should we be worried about the red zone?

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Both the short- and long-term answers are both no. Red-zone offenses are tricky, as the field is shortened, leaving less room for separation and tighter windows on both the ground and through the air.

Yet good quarterbacks and offenses navigate these successfully. And while the Niners have yet to surround Garoppolo with sufficient red-zone weapons, he’s already shown he can manage an attack within opponents’ 25-yard lines.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s NFL Red-Zone Numbers

True, the actual sample size of Garoppolo’s red-zone efforts is pretty small. After all, he’s appeared in just 19 career games and has only started three.

But the splits in that short period time are favorable. Check them out:

Jimmy Garoppolo Career Field-Position Advanced Splits Table
Field PositionOwn 1-1034175.0045030111.5011.311.25
Own 1-201418477.78148070100.918.28.22
Own 21-5036541866.67360017177.756.75.83
Opp 49-2031441370.454112200114.939.310.25
Red Zone1017758.8282450110.814.89.53
Opp 1-1024250.0020220104.215.015.00

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2017.

Garoppolo has a lesser completion percentage in the red zone than anywhere else, but his passer rating remains high. The weight given to touchdowns here makes a difference, but having exactly 40 percent of his red-zone throws ending in a touchdown is solid enough.

One of those has already come with San Francisco. Remember the play below:

We broke that specific play from Week 12 — Garoppolo’s three-play debut with the 49ers — down earlier. You can give it a read here.

Related Story: 49ers film room: Breaking down Jimmy Garoppolo's Week 12 touchdown

The point is Garoppolo is more than capable of handling red-zone duties. If there is a question mark, it’s how well the 49ers offense can provide him support.

What the 49ers Can Expect in Week 14

Going 0-of-5 in the red zone certainly didn’t aid San Francisco’s percentages here.

According to, the Niners currently sit 30th in the NFL with a touchdown-success rate in the red zone of 40.6 percent. There’s a lot that goes into the number, of course, including the 49ers’ previous issues at quarterback.

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Garoppolo provides a notable upgrade, and we should expect this number to jump a bit between now and the end of the season.

Even if the quarterback’s receiving targets aren’t exactly high profile.

But there’s some good news for the 49ers, as they prepare for their Week 14 bout with the Houston Texans. The Texans are allowing opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone 54.3 percent of the time — 20th best in the NFL.

On top of that, the Texans are allowing a passer rating of 105.1 within the red zone and have also allowed 13 passing touchdowns this year against zero interceptions.

Next: 5 Week 14 matchups to watch for 49ers vs. Texans

Yes, Garoppolo and the 49ers have an opportunity here.