3 stats 49ers should see improvement in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 1: 49ers’ Third-Down Offense
2020 Stats: 77 first downs on 197 third downs (39%), 23rd best in NFL
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a lot of things. He’s not elite, nor is he a big-play quarterback capable of delivering the ball with accuracy far down the field.
But if there’s one area in which he’s been historically good, it’s on third downs.
Over the course of his career, Garoppolo owns a solid 64.7 completion percentage on third downs with him tossing a first-down pass 128 times on 269 third-down attempts — good for a 47.6 success rate. And in 2019, when Garoppolo helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl, he completed 65 attempts for a first down on 130 third-down situations, and his 50-percent success mark here actually ended up leading the entire NFL in that category.
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Not surprisingly, the 49ers owned the league’s fifth-best third-down offense in 2019.
With Garoppolo missing more than half of the season last year, though, it’s not shocking the Niners’ ranking in this category dipped all the way to 23rd with the offense converting on third downs a mere 39.1 percent of the time.
Granted, Jimmy G losing one of his better third-down weapons from the past four years, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, to free agency doesn’t help matters. But it’s offset somewhat by San Francisco’s efforts to reinforce the offensive line this offseason, namely signing veteran center Alex Mack and drafting a pass-protecting guard in Aaron Banks.
Hopefully, provided Garoppolo stays consistent with the numbers here so far in his career, the 49ers will see a noticeable uptick in third-down production. And in turn, the entirety of both the offensive and defensive efforts will improve, too.