San Francisco 49ers: Power ranking top 10 players entering 2020

George Kittle #85 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

. . . QB Jimmy Garoppolo. 4. player. 42

49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

OK, maybe I’m stacking this because one thing seems clear: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continuing to develop and move up the ranks of the NFL’s top quarterbacks is a key to the 49ers’ success not just in 2020, but in years beyond that.

But the honest fact of the matter is when Garoppolo is on, he is one of the best players on the team and fully capable of leading the Niners to victory when he’s asked to do so.

Could Garoppolo stand to be more consistent in terms of his production? Absolutely. Could some of the lack of production at times be due to other elements, such as sketchy play on the interior line? That’s also true.

Also remember that 2019 was both Garoppolo’s first full year as a 49er, with his 2018 being shortened by his Week 3 ACL tear, and just his first full season as an NFL starter. Not to mention he was coming off that injury, which means he was getting stronger and more confident in his knee as the season went along.

And of course, there’s the complexity of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which supposedly takes years to master, especially for the quarterback, who must know all the ins and outs of the offense in order to run it successfully. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won the MVP during his second season in Shanahan’s offense.

This isn’t to say Garoppolo will necessarily turn into Ryan during the 2020 campaign, but the fact of the matter is that the Niners don’t need him to be.

Given the way defense fluctuates from year to year, there’s a strong likelihood the Niners will need even more offense than they got in 2019, a unit that was fourth in total yards and scored nearly 30 points per game.

A lot of that will fall on the shoulders of Garoppolo, who showed himself fully able to carry the team when needed (see: both Arizona games and at New Orleans), but still gets unduly criticized by the media.

To silence the doubters, Garoppolo must improve in the areas where he struggled last year (interceptions and sometimes poor decisions, notably), and if he does so, there’s little doubt he’ll be one of the 49ers best players in doing so.