Jimmy Garoppolo: How 49ers QB gets right vs. Bears in Week 8
By Romelo Bracy
The 49ers desperately need Jimmy Garoppolo to play better versus the Bears in Week 8, and here is how he can manage to do that on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers current starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off arguably the worst game of his career. As the Niners fell to the Indianapolis Colts 30-18 last Sunday night, Jimmy G completed 16 of his 21 passes and threw two interceptions while adding a lost fumble.
The poor weather did play a rather large role in this one, though, as it was pouring rain throughout, which is a reason to stay optimistic Jimmy G may be able to turn it around.
If he does, he’ll have to do so in a vital Week 8 road matchup against the Chicago Bears.
It starts with Jimmy Garoppolo protecting the football
Garoppolo is turning the ball over at an alarming rate. In the five games played this season, Garoppolo has turned the ball over seven times, losing three fumbles and throwing four interceptions during that stretch. For San Francisco to have a chance against the Bears this weekend, Jimmy G will need to limit his turnovers.
It is especially important because the 49ers defense isn’t generating turnovers to give the offense more opportunities. Currently, the Niners defense ranks 31st in turnovers forced with only one interception and three fumbles recovered.
Since Garoppolo was named the starter in 2017, the 49ers are 18-4 when he commits one turnover or less and 2-1 this season.
If you want an X-factor, that’s it.
Jimmy Garoppolo needs to start throwing down the field
For Jimmy G to turn his season around, he needs to start finding receivers down the field and not just check the ball down to his running backs and tight ends.
Per Next Gen Stats, of Garoppolo’s 16 completions Sunday night, 11 of them came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He attempted just three passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air and completed two of them for game-changing plays. As long as Jimmy G refuses to try and air the ball out down the field, defenses will be able to crowd the box knowing they won’t have to worry about anything deep.
Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus pointed out that Jimmy G ranks dead last among all qualifying quarterbacks in both turnover-worthy play percentage and big-time throw percentage, which PFF regards as “best described as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window:”
Jimmy G has not thrown the ball down the field nor has he thrown the ball into tight windows all season. In fact, his receivers are averaging almost 2 full yards of separation when targeted. This could be because Garoppolo hasn’t established great chemistry with his receivers yet, the best quarterbacks throw their receivers open, and we have yet to see Jimmy G do that.
But starting to threaten the defense down the field in Week 8 versus the Bears is a great strategy to give Garoppolo confidence moving forward.
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Garoppolo has shown the ability in the past to throw the ball down the field, and for the offense to be at its best, he needs to get back to that.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers must return to the play-action pass
When Jimmy G and Niners were at their best and made a Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, they put the pressure on teams by establishing the run and making plays in the passing game through play action.
Returning to play action more often this week will give Garoppolo the opportunity to have more time in the pocket and make decisions. The Bears being without superstar EDGE Khalil Mack should help the 49ers offensive line as well, but having a balanced attack in this game will be key to help keep the pressure off Garoppolo.
Establishing the run will set up the pass, and that’s how head coach Kyle Shanahan has done it all along, well until this season.
Expect a much cleaner Garoppolo performance this Sunday as the offense will look to get things rolling again.