No. 4: 49ers not stretching the field with Jimmy Garoppolo
This is likely a concern that’s not going anyway anytime soon. At least not as long as Jimmy Garoppolo is under center.
Garoppolo doesn’t have a cannon for an arm. He never has. And aside from his 79-yard touchdown toss to Deebo Samuel in Week 1, the overwhelming majority of Garoppolo’s passes have been his typical 5- or 6-yard throws beyond the line of scrimmage.
A couple of stats back this up.
First, per Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo’s intended air-yards number is 5.1, which is third lowest among qualifiers and only ahead of the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan (4.9) and the Chicago Bears’ Andy Dalton (4.2). Then, on top of that, Football Outsiders’ ALEX metric (air less expected on third downs) is minus-3.5, which is fourth lowest among qualifiers and essentially means Garoppolo is averaging third-down tosses 3.5 yards short of the first-down marker.
This latter stat works if San Francisco’s receivers are able to pick up chunk yards after the catch, and YAC yards have been part of Kyle Shanahan’s offense for a while now.
Against stiffer competition, however, the 49ers will need to take some deep shots to open up things underneath.
With Garoppolo, it might never be a thing, pushing the notion rookie quarterback Trey Lance needs to enter the fray sooner than expected.