No. 2: 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo
For whatever the reasons, Jimmy Garoppolo‘s fourth-quarter meltdown in the Super Bowl ended up defining his efforts over the entirety of last season.
Never mind the fact he tossed 3,978 yards, which ranks fourth best for the franchise, or completed 69.1 percent of his passes, which was fourth best among all qualifiers last year. Garoppolo was tied for best in the league with four fourth-quarter comebacks, too, so it’s not like he’s unable to come through in the clutch.
All this could ultimately work to his benefit this season, too.
One might expect other teams to try taking away the 49ers ground game as much as possible, given both the questions the Niners have at wide receiver and Garoppolo’s fair-or-not reputation from the playoffs last season. Because of this, Garoppolo and the offense will likely face plenty seven- and eight-man defensive fronts early.
Until Garoppolo proves he can regularly beat teams with his arm instead of being associated as a “system quarterback,” he’ll be under scrutiny.
What he does with that ensures he belongs high on this list.