According to Pro Football Focus, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t in the worst of ranking tiers, but he’s certainly not among the best.
Paired with that he attempted a mere 27 attempts in the two playoffs games leading up to the Super Bowl, and one likely didn’t remove any preconceptions Jimmy G is nothing more than a system quarterback under head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Moving into 2020, Garoppolo and the Niners will look to put those ghosts behind them and gain some sort of respect under center.
At any rate, it’s important to tier quarterbacks. There are plenty of ways to do it, and you can even come up with your own tiers and where you’d like to place each starting QB in the league. Let’s have a fun exercise, shall we?
- Tier 1: Quarterbacks who carry teams regardless of supporting roster
- Tier 2: Proven winners most of the time
- Tier 3: QBs who need a good roster/head coach to succeed
- Tier 4: Game managers
- Tier 5: Place holders
Those tiers took about three seconds to think up. And all one needs to do is go through the league and categorize each starter.
Pro Football Focus’ tiering of Jimmy Garoppolo
For those not wanting to do their own tiering, the folks over at Pro Football Focus are happy to entertain you.
PFF’s Steve Palazzolo just broke down his tiering for all 32 starters entering 2020 into the following categories:
- Tier 1: High-end quarterbacks who can carry a team
- Tier 2: Quarterbacks who are more likely to elevate teammates and achieve top-end production, even with lesser supporting casts
- Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks who will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and playcalling
- Tier 4: Quarterbacks with more question marks, either due to a lack of experience/seeing them perform at a high level in the NFL
Before going any further, where do you think Jimmy Garoppolo ends up?
Palazzolo placed Garoppolo in the third tier, justifying it by writing:
Garoppolo finished with the 13th-best grade in the league during the regular season, and that’s a fair proxy for what he is at this point in his career. The 49ers had one of the most efficient passing games in the league in 2019; the scheme was fantastic, and Garoppolo was aided by 55.1% of his yards coming after the catch, the second-highest rate in the league.
Garoppolo’s accuracy does help make the system work, as he had the sixth-lowest percentage of uncatchable passes a year ago, though he must cut down on those poor decisions over the middle of the field that turned too many of his solid games into average performances.
To be fair to those thinking Palazzolo is way off base, only two quarterbacks — the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson — made it into Tier 1. Few realistic fans would argue both belong there.
For the most optimistic Jimmy G fan, Tier 2 seems fair. Garoppolo did, at times, flash the kind of efforts needed to elevate a less-than-supportive cast, especially when the banged-up 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals on the road during a Thursday Night Football contest on Halloween. And while the Niners were relatively healthy in a back-and-forth Week 14 road bout against the New Orleans Saints, the 49ers needed every ounce of Jimmy G’s playmaking abilities to have a chance to win, which they got.
Yet Palazzolo’s assessment of Garoppolo’s poor decisions has some merit. While Jimmy G’s 69.1 completion percentage ranked fourth among qualifiers last year, his 2.7 interception-percentage rating was tied for seventh highest, and none of the top-10 quarterbacks in that category made the playoffs last year.
Being realistic, tiering Garoppolo in the third group along with the bulk of starting quarterbacks, such as the Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr, the Tennessee Titans’ Ryan Tannehill, the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff, the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford, seems more sensible.
Even if it’s not going to be as popular among Garoppolo fans.