49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Although Garoppolo isn’t a second-year quarterback, 2018 is his second season with the team, so it’s perhaps appropriate to say the 49ers’ QB is in the midst of a sophomore slump.
After lighting up the scoreboard and the stat sheet in his five straight victories to end the 2017 season, Garoppolo hasn’t demonstrated the same level of dominance during the first two games of 2018:
While his statistics signify an improved performance in Week 2, Garoppolo arguably played better in Week 1, as his three interceptions were products of a blown route, a tipped pass and a desperation throw near the end of the game against a formidable Minnesota Vikings defense.
In Week 2, Garoppolo threw what would have been a game-changing interception that was called back due to penalty, and took multiple “coverage sacks” when he had ample time to throw the ball away.
To Garoppolo’s credit, he has quickly bounced back from mistakes, and dropped passes and injuries to offensive linemen — and most importantly, the absence of his go-to receiver Marquise Goodwin — have certainly taken a toll on the QB. Given that this is Garoppolo’s first full season in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s complex offensive system, Garoppolo should be given somewhat of a pass for his slow start to the year.
Once Goodwin returns, look for Garoppolo to revert to his 2017 form, which earned him a record-breaking contract, and his role as the face of the 49ers’ franchise:
Mahomes — a true second-year player — certainly hasn’t experienced a sophomore slump in 2018; in fact, he’s been nearly perfect over the first two games of the season.
The saving grace for 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is the fact that Mahomes has played so well, it’s impossible for the QB to continue his current rate of production. Eventually, the Chiefs’ quarterback will come back down to earth; Saleh just hopes Mahomes begins his descent on Sunday.
To open the season, Mahomes has thrown 10 touchdown passes, and no interceptions, in only 55 passing attempts. He’s averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt, and over 14 adjusted yards per pass attempt:
Of all active NFL quarterbacks, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has the highest passing touchdown percentage — touchdowns divided by passing attempts — in a single season, at 9.0 percent. So far this season, Mahomes’ passing touchdown percentage is 18.2 percent, which is more than 10 times that of 49ers QB C.J. Beathard in 2017:
If the 49ers expect to win on Sunday, they will need to bring the pressure they’ve lacked over the beginning of the season, and force the youngster into making mistakes. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long day for San Francisco’s secondary, with a shootout being the Niners’ lone chance for victory.