In order for the San Francisco 49ers to overcome their heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl LIV, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan must work on their chemistry together.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is now labeled a postseason underachiever. And so is head coach Kyle Shanahan, who watched his Niners squander a 20-10 lead to the Kansas City Chiefs en route to an eventual 31-20 loss in Super Bowl LIV.
For better or worse, that’ll be the narrative for both men this offseason. It might not be warranted or justified, but that’s the nature of the discussion.
By all accounts, the relationship between quarterback and head coach looked to be a good one.
“For him to be like that and not let the pressure get to him and improve as the year went says a ton about Jimmy,” Shanahan said Thursday, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “I can’t tell you how much I love coaching the guy as a player and a person.”
Yet there are reasons to suspect the two aren’t quite in sync just yet.
One possible example was Shanahan’s play calling late in the first half of the Super Bowl, where it seemed as if the head coach was playing to go into halftime with a 10-10 tie — never a bad idea against a high-profile Chiefs offense. But considering that same Chiefs offense is capable of scoring in bunches, Shanahan’s decision to not put a two-minute drive in the hands of Garoppolo is somewhat of a concern.
Although a would-be scoring chance was wiped out by a questionable offensive pass-interference call against tight end George Kittle on a bomb from Garoppolo.
Still, there are those who feel the relationship between Garoppolo and Shanahan should improve, including Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
Young had some interesting comments about the pair, as told to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ron Kroichick:
"I think he and Kyle have to work on their dance step. The thing before halftime doesn’t make sense to me. If I was the quarterback, and you just let the clock drain away, what are you saying to me?That’s just me. I understand you want to drain a little bit of time, so you don’t have to give it back to Patrick Mahomes. I get that, but how about some time for me? That tells me there’s an ongoing relationship that needs to be developed, a trust maybe that needs to be worked on."
That trust was subject to criticism during the 49ers’ playoff wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in the divisional and NFC Championship rounds, respectively, where Garoppolo attempted a combined 27 passes in both games.
Granted, the Niners rushing for a combined 471 rush yards in both games all but negated any need for Garoppolo to pass much.
Still, Garoppolo has a tendency to miss wide-open targets on the field, which was evident throughout the second half of the Super Bowl. Given the complexity of Shanahan’s offense, one might understand why Shanahan would be hesitant to fully trust his quarterback.
Shanahan does have a point, however, citing Garoppolo doesn’t have anywhere close to a lot of starts at the NFL level, and the head coach’s system is terribly complex.
In order to overcome that complexity, however, Shanahan and Garoppolo will have to be much closer on the same page in 2020.
Hat tip to 49ers Webzone’s David Bonilla for the find.