Ranking Jimmy Garoppolo 2021 campaign against other 49ers QBs

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Jimmy Garoppolo might not have been great for the 49ers in 2021, but he certainly wasn’t terrible, and the stats from the year prove it.

OK, Jimmy Garoppolo fans, this one’s for you.

The San Francisco 49ers are poised to move on from Jimmy G this offseason, yes. And all the reasons behind that inevitable decision came to light over the course of the 2021 season and into the playoffs: Garoppolo’s injuries, interception-prone tendencies, a limited arm and the general inability to shoulder the bulk of his offense, particularly in big moments.

At the same time, though, Garoppolo wasn’t exactly a scrub. Despite missing two starts, the Niners nevertheless went 10-7 during the regular season, climbing out of a messy 3-5 start, and made it all the way to within minutes of winning the 2022 NFC Championship game.

And in a weak offseason quarterback market, Garoppolo’s play improved San Francisco’s ability to trade him for more than what might have been thought possible a little less than a year ago.

Over 15 regular-season starts, Jimmy G completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns against 12 interceptions, all for a 98.7 passer rating.

Elite, no. But surely within the realm of the top half of quarterbacks who played this season.

But where would Jimmy G rank in terms of all the 49ers’ starters over the franchise’s history? Was his 2021 campaign in a top-10 ranking there?

Let’s take a look.

Did Jimmy Garoppolo have a top-10 season for 49ers?

There’s no one perfect measuring stick to determine where Jimmy G’s 2021 campaign would rank among other Niners quarterbacks’ single seasons over the years.

But, for whatever it’s worth, Garoppolo’s 3,810 pass yards finished eighth best for a single season in franchise history, and Garoppolo joins Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only San Francisco quarterbacks to appear twice on the single-season top-10 list in this category, Garoppolo’s 3,978 pass yards in 2019 being the other appearance.

Young currently owns the best completion percentage in franchise history over a single season with 70.3, starting at least 13 games, so Garoppolo’s 68.3 mark in 2021 would rank fourth in that category, too, which certainly isn’t bad.

However, getting into some of the other categories reveals why Garoppolo didn’t necessarily have a top-end kind of season in 2021.

Where Jimmy Garoppolo fell short for 49ers in 2021

Despite owning a top-five red-zone offense in 2021, Garoppolo wasn’t necessarily called upon to be a touchdown thrower over the course of the year. Perhaps it was due to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling within the red zone to an extent. But the fact Garoppolo’s 20 touchdowns thrown ranked tied for 17th in the NFL over the course of the regular season says he was much more of a game manager than playmaker.

Contrasting that number against some other 49ers single-season quarterbacking efforts, those 20 touchdown passes are tied for 21st best in franchise history alongside Young (1995) and another Hall of Famer, Y.A. Tittle, (1953) over 11 games played.

Garoppolo’s 12 interceptions thrown on the year suggest he was prone to tossing picks, although that sheer number is a bit misleading, considering it’s tied for 34th most for a Niners quarterback in a single season.

Read More: Power ranking all 9 Niners playoff quarterbacks in franchise history

The most thrown by any San Francisco quarterback in a single year was Tittle back in 1955 with 28.

Hard to imagine anyone else (aside from quarterback Jameis Winston, perhaps) doing that in today’s NFL.

Tittle’s 9.8 interception percentage that year is tops among qualifiers in this team category, and Garoppolo’s 2.7 interception percentage from 2021 would rank 30th overall in franchise history.

In the modern-football era since 1970, though, it’d be 14th with quarterback Steve DeBerg’s 1978 interception percentage of 7.3 being tops.

Not exactly terrific.

Where should Jimmy Garoppolo’s 2021 campaign rank in 49ers history?

The ultimate goal for any starting quarterback is to win a Super Bowl, and doing so almost forgives any of the shortcomings elsewhere regardless of how bad they might be.

In this regard, Garoppolo’s 2021 campaign came up two games short, although getting to the NFC Championship game carries some merit. And the fact he engineered three fourth-quarter comebacks last season helps a bit, too.

Some of the positive statistics suggest Garoppolo put up a top-10 single season for the 49ers last year, and it might be hard to argue that. At the same time, though, there weren’t exactly any signature games over the course of the year. Garoppolo never tossed more than two touchdowns in any single contest, and his 98.7 passer rating in 2021 ranked 11th among team quarterbacks who made at least 10 starts in their respective seasons.

Placing Garoppolo’s 2021 efforts into the top 20 or even the top 15 probably feels fair enough, but it surely won’t go down as one of the greatest single-season quarterbacking efforts the Niners have enjoyed over their storied history.

Next. Ranking 49ers' 10 best single-season performances in franchise history. dark