49ers Who Is?’ series: Jimmy Garoppolo to break out in 2020

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Why Jimmy Garoppolo improves with 49ers in 2020

It’s important to note Jimmy Garoppolo still has just 26 regular-season pro-level starts under his belt. That’s less than some of the other younger high-profile quarterbacks, such as the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (31) and the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield (29).

It’s also important to note that full season was supposed to take place in 2018, yet Garoppolo’s season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 against the Chiefs meant that year was spent rehabilitating more than mastering the nuances of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s playbook.

And Hall of Famer Steve Young told KNBR 680 last September how that could affect Jimmy G’s efforts in 2019:

"You’re coming off a knee, and I just don’t feel like you really drive (the ball). It’ll be a year of, you know, they always say the second year from a knee injury, they’re great at the ACLs now, but everyone I’ve ever heard from from this year to 20 years ago, the first year you’re playing, but you’re not 100 percent, and then the second year you feel great."

This suggests Garoppolo could bounce back from what was otherwise an injury-affected 2019 campaign.

If he does so, it’ll be reflected especially on third downs.

Last season, Garoppolo led the entire league in third-down passes for a first down, completing 50 percent of these successful attempts. A player to watch in this key category is third-year wide receiver Trent Taylor, with whom Garoppolo developed a solid rapport in 2017. Taylor had 19 third-down receptions for a first down that season, which was tied for ninth and most among rookies that season.

While San Francisco reinforced its wide receiver corps heading into 2020 by adding rookies Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings in the NFL Draft, getting Taylor back from a yearlong foot injury might be just as crucial.