Jimmy Garoppolo brutally costs 49ers in Week 16 loss to Titans

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Denico Autry #96 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Denico Autry #96 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

35. Final. 17. 42. 20

The 49ers should have easily dominated the shorthanded Titans, but Jimmy Garoppolo’s multiple interceptions and gaffes ultimately doomed Week 16.

Cue up the calls again for the San Francisco 49ers to start rookie quarterback Trey Lance.

The Niners had every chance to take a commanding lead in the first half on Thursday Night Football in Week 16, except there was one player holding them back, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

San Francisco entered the game 7-0 when Garoppolo didn’t toss an interception this season, but it was only 1-5 when he did.

Make that 1-6 now after the 49ers fell to Tennessee 20-17 in prime time with Garoppolo’s on-field performance being an unmitigated disaster.

The Niners held quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Titans to a mere 55 first-half yards and three first downs en route to a 10-0 lead at halftime. But it could have been a massive 24-0 lead if Garoppolo was on point.

Narrator: He wasn’t.

Jimmy Garoppolo costs 49ers multiple scoring opportunities

After taking a quick 7-0 lead on its opening drive, San Francisco was poised again on its second drive to get into the end zone, only to watch Garoppolo stare down tight end George Kittle and toss an ill-advised pass right into the waiting arms of cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins:

Any idea what Garoppolo was thinking there? Anyone?

If that wasn’t bad enough, Jimmy G’s overthrown pass intended for wide receiver Deebo Samuel was another ugly turnover, on which Tennessee capitalized with a touchdown:

There’s a 14-point swing right there.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Garoppolo missed a wide open fullback Kyle Juszczyk, down the right sidelines for what would have been a walk-in touchdown. Instead, Garoppolo’s pass sailed high and over Juszczyk’s head, who didn’t have a Tennessee defender within 10 yards of him.

Make that a 21-point swing. Brutal.

Garoppolo went 25-of-34 for 306 yards, a touchdown against the two interceptions (and nearly a third) with a 86.2 passer rating despite helping tie things up in the fourth quarter by hitting wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk for a 2-yard touchdown.

49ers defense has no answer for third down, Titans WR A.J. Brown

Aside from all of Garoppolo’s problems, the only other way the 49ers could have blown Week 16 was if the Titans were to exploit the return of wide receiver A.J. Brown, who was activated off injured reserve on Thursday after suffering a chest injury earlier.

Well, Brown was absolutely dominant, particularly once Tennessee took over all the momentum in the second half.

Part of Tannehill’s strategy, especially on the multitude of 3rd-and-long plays he was facing, was to merely throw it up and target Brown, the time aided by the fact EDGE Nick Bosa was only scantly able to get beyond a patchwork Titans offensive line.

Read More: How 49ers botched their handling of Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance

It worked.

Brown finished the night with 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, frequently outworking the Niners defensive backs and assisted by San Francisco’s defense surrendering a whopping 9-of-16 mark on third-down attempts.

Again, brutal.

The 49ers fall to 8-7 with the loss, another game they were in position to win, but at least can recoup with a mini bye week before hosting the lowly Houston Texans in Week 17.

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