Why Jimmy Garoppolo Will Be Just Fine
In Week 1, Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to have the tendency to force passes into tiny windows — something he wasn’t necessarily prone to doing during his five-game win streak with the 49ers in 2017.
According to Pro Football Focus, Garoppolo ranked fifth best in turnover-worthy plays last season (2.55 percent), meaning he generally took care of the ball despite having five interceptions over that short span. PFF accounted for turnovers that weren’t exactly his fault.
After tossing three picks in Week 1, it’s reasonable to assume he took a more cautious approach with his reads the following week against Detroit, possibly explaining the extended time within the pocket and the six sacks taken.
As for the would-be interception at the end of the game, well, a bad read. Plain and simple.
Another looming factor to consider here has been the elongated absence of Garoppolo’s favorite target during training camp and the preseason, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has been hampered with a quad injury. Head coach Kyle Shanahan made note following Week 2’s contest how his other receivers weren’t exactly doing a good job of getting open — former KNBR 680 insider Kevin Jones made the same argument here — and one has to wonder if Goodwin’s downfield presence would have changed that.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo and Third Down
Onto that ESPN stat on third downs.
A year ago, Garoppolo’s third-down passer rating was 100.7. And PFF was quick to point out how effective Garoppolo was here, writing, “A ridiculous 53.3 percent of Garoppolo’s third-and-long attempts received positive grades. No one else cleared 40 percent.”
Those abilities simply don’t disappear in one offseason. One possible explanation is Garoppolo’s favorite third-down weapon last year, wide receiver Trent Taylor, hasn’t been much of a factor in 2018 so far. He has just four receptions on the young season for a lowly 28 yards — a far cry from the third-down usage he saw during that five-game win streak to end 2017.
This is a theory but a good one. Shanahan’s complex offense is still a work in progress for the offense, Garoppolo included. Often, early in the season and paired with the lack of starters’ playing time in the preseason, many teams’ offenses will be behind in chemistry compared to their own defenses and others across the league.
Garoppolo still has worked less than a full year under Shanahan, which is far less than the time it took for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to master Shanahan’s system en route to a league MVP accolade in 2016.
Perhaps this explains why Shanahan said this back in training camp (h/t 49ers Webzone):
"I think he’ll be even better next year. This is his first training camp. I know we’ve thrown everything at him and it’s the second time going through it because the first time was OTAs. We’re done with the install, so now we’re isolating out a few more things that we come back to that we haven’t since like day one. But, (Garoppolo is) much further along, obviously, than he was last year. I think he’ll be much further along next year, too, at this time."
What Shanahan likely alluded to in August is what we’re seeing now — growing pains for San Francisco’s franchise signal-caller. And that’s fine. He needs to go through those to eventually master one of the most effective offenses in the league today.
So don’t worry, 49ers fans. Jimmy G will be just fine. You’ll only need to be patient early.
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