4 reasons to be excited about 49ers playoff chances in 2021

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: Jimmy Garoppolo is under the gun to perform

If there was ever a time for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to prove why the Niners once made him the highest-paid signal-caller in the league, it’s now.

Let’s not go out there and say Garoppolo is elite. Some may even question whether or not he should fall into the “good” category, perhaps suggesting he’s merely average. And that’s OK.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

But one of the key differences facing Garoppolo in 2021, and one he never had at any point since being traded to San Francisco in 2017, is a real quarterback competition. His former backups, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, certainly didn’t provide that. Yet with the 49ers’ top pick from this year’s NFL Draft, quarterback Trey Lance, now eying and pushing for the team’s starting role as soon as possible, Garoppolo has to be feeling the heat.

Competition usually pushes players to perform better. At least that’s the idea. And with Garoppolo looking squarely in the face of being either traded or released in a year’s time, whatever contract he lands next will be the direct result of what he does on the field now.

2019 showed Garoppolo can be effective enough, passing for 3,978 yards, which just so happens to rank fourth best in single-season franchise history. So, while Kyle Shanahan might not trust Jimmy G to fully helm an offense, there’s still room for the quarterback to succeed when he needs to the most.

And the Niners, owners of three losing seasons over the last four years, need Garoppolo to perform at his best this year, too.

Enough to get back into the playoffs.

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