The San Francisco 49ers offense needed every bit of Jimmy Garoppolo in their back-and-forth Week 14 win over the New Orleans Saints, which proved his doubters can be silenced for good.
The argument quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is the San Francisco 49ers‘ weak link amid what has been a storybook 2019 campaign can be put to rest now. It’s over, finished. That thought has run its course.
Sorry, Stephen A. Smith. You’ll have to find something else for your hot takes now.
Garoppolo was essential in the Niners’ epic back-and-forth Week 14 clash with the New Orleans Saints, who held the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and could put a massive dent in San Francisco’s bid to climb out of the No. 5 seed. But Garoppolo and the 49ers managed a come-from-behind 48-46 road win to improve to 11-2, while sending New Orleans to 10-3.
The stats tell a pretty good story: Jimmy Garoppolo went 26-of-35 for 349 yards, tossing four touchdowns, which matches his career best, against an interception which bounced off the hands of his intended receiver, Emmanuel Sanders.
All that for a passer rating of 131.7. Not bad at all, considering Garoppolo was trying to outduel Saints quarterback Drew Brees, a future Hall of Famer, who was also outstanding in the bout.
Brees is part of the narrative, too.
Garoppolo has enjoyed two other four-touchdown games this season, both against the Arizona Cardinals and a rookie quarterback, Kyler Murray. And while Garoppolo was the far superior quarterback in the 49ers’ Week 12 home win against the Green Bay Packers, so much of that game’s focus was on what another Hall of Famer, Aaron Rodgers, wasn’t able to do as opposed to what Garoppolo did — go 14-of-20 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in that bout.
For those who love the QB-versus-QB narrative, Garoppolo beating Rodgers still wasn’t enough. All eyes were on San Francisco’s defense that game.
And Murray isn’t good enough a quarterback yet to justify saying Garoppolo is proving his critics wrong.
“I think [Jimmy Garoppolo] hasn’t cared about what the naysayers and outside world has thought this entire time,” cornerback Richard Sherman said of his quarterback postgame. “But I think it’s a wake-up call for them as well, of the quarterback he can be, and the quarterback he is in the clutch moments, the crucial moments of the game.”
Speaking of clutch moments, Garoppolo and the 49ers offense could have run out of steam when Brees led a go-ahead touchdown drive with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Had the 46-45 Saints lead held, it would have been the 36th fourth-quarter comeback in Brees’ career. If Garoppolo wasn’t able to answer back, the narrative against him likely would have continued.
But Garoppolo answered back, and the Niners won on a game-winning field goal by Robbie Gould as time expired.
In doing so, Garoppolo beat Brees in a back-and-fourth duel when San Francisco’s offense was vulnerable, making the huge plays in the clutch moments of the game on the road in a tough environment against what was the No. 1 seed in the conference in playoff crunch time.
If that’s not enough for the Jimmy Garoppolo doubters, nothing else will ever be.