No. 1: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
All the noise through the last few weeks regarding the then-7-0 start to the 49ers season seemed to be centered around one thing: Their quarterback was just playing OK and the defense was carrying the team.
How, the critics asked, would Jimmy Garoppolo respond when he needed to win the game for his team?
On Thursday night, Garoppolo answered that question rather emphatically.
The 49ers quarterback ended the game 28-of-37 for 317 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers (George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, and wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis). His QBR was 95.3 and passer rating a near-perfect 136.9.
Even more importantly, on a night when the defense was having a more difficult time than it had all season, Garoppolo managed to sustain drives at the most important moments.
So far in 2019, Garoppolo has completed 160 of 226 passes (70 percent) for 1,806 yards (8.0 yards per attempt), 13 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 100.7 rating. Those numbers, while unlikely to win him an MVP award, are all instrumental in the most important numbers for the 49ers: eight wins and no losses.
And there’s a decent chance that Garoppolo is only getting started, as noted by Al Sacco of KNBR:
Hopefully, Thursday night’s game is the start of something like that for Garoppolo. But if nothing else, it was certainly one of the best performances from the quarterback in a 49ers uniform.
Best yet, it not only propelled the Niners further along in their quest to win the NFC West and get into the playoffs, but it should also quiet the critics who say Garoppolo isn’t capable of winning games for his squad.