The 49ers got one quality drive out of Jimmy Garoppolo against the Seahawks, but a calf injury combined with other mistakes create a cloudy future.
And it could potentially end with a whimper in the Niners’ 2021 Week 4 home loss to the Seahawks.
The 28-21 loss on Oct. 3 could be a watershed moment, both for Garoppolo and the franchise. Garoppolo suffered a calf injury that forced him out at halftime, giving way to rookie quarterback Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft, to finish out the game while tossing two touchdowns against zero interceptions in the process.
Garoppolo isn’t relegated to the scrap heap just yet. But his future is very much in doubt, especially if the injury winds up forcing him to miss multiple weeks, opening up the door for San Francisco to start Lance and never look back.
Getting hurt, regardless of whether or not he should be blamed for it, is one thing Garoppolo nevertheless did wrong in Week 4.
But let’s look at the rest of the specifics, including what worked and what didn’t in Week 4.
What worked for Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers in Week 4 vs. Seahawks
Well, in short, the opening drive.
It’s important to note most teams script their opening series, and head coach Kyle Shanahan is no different. And considering some of the offensive struggles the 49ers have had so far in 2021, it was reassuring to see Garoppolo and Co. march down the field on an eight-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to No. 2 tight end Ross Dwelley:
The Niners’ run game was working up to that point, and would stay so throughout the game, meaning play action would be effective. On top of that, Garoppolo managed to challenge two of his perceived weaknesses — throwing 20-plus yards on a play and going outside the numbers — and succeeding.
Garoppolo went a perfect 6-of-6 on that drive. Against a questionable Seahawks defense, and with knowledge Seattle’s offense could score in bunches, that was the right tone to set early in the game.
Unfortunately, not much else went right for Jimmy G before halftime.
What didn’t work for Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers offense vs. Seahawks
After that opening drive, it became clear Garoppolo was reverting back to being ineffective, much like he was for a good chunk of time during San Francisco’s Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers when the 49ers offense found itself trying to climb out of a 17-0 hole.
Later on, fans and media were informed of Garoppolo’s calf injury, suffered on that opening drive, yet the injury slowly got more painful and eventually forced Garoppolo out of the lineup.
Highlighting the numerous misses and overthrows, which have become commonplace for nearly every Jimmy G start, was the interception thrown at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter. Garoppolo somehow missed the lurking Seahawks defender, Quandre Diggs, on his attempt to tight end George Kittle:
Even if Garoppolo was hurting because of the injury, that was going to be a risky throw in the first place, and defenses have learned to defend the middle when Garoppolo tries to test that area of the field.
Jimmy G paid for it.
Overall, Garoppolo finished the game going 14-of-23 for 165 yards, the touchdown against an interception and a 79.1 passer rating while taking one sack. And while Shanahan’s play-calling can bear some of the blame, Garoppolo is also partially responsible for the Niners’ boasting a lowly 1-of-6 mark on third-down attempts.
They’d finish the game 2-of-14, so it’s not as if the third-down conversion rate improved once Garoppolo gave way to Lance in the second half.
Now, the focus will be on whether or not Garoppolo can come back soon from his injury. Even then, at least depending on how Lance performs, the prospects for an early return may be too late anyway.