Jimmy Garoppolo must stay hot when 49ers host Saints
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers are on a three-game win streak largely because of Jimmy Garoppolo playing well, and he’ll look to continue that trend in Week 12 against the Saints.
There are plenty of reasons why the San Francisco 49ers are riding a three-game win streak with victories over the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, and most recently, a commanding domination of the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football in Week 11.
The Niners defense hasn’t allowed a point in the second half of those three games, while head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive playmakers have started to come alive altogether.
However, a big reason why San Francisco has played so well as of late is due to the hot hand of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo tied a career-best mark by throwing four touchdowns in the win over Arizona, and he had done that twice before against the Cardinals in his career.
Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo ties career game record with 4 TDs vs. Cardinals
And the other team against which Garoppolo tossed four touchdowns? The 49ers’ next opponent, the New Orleans Saints.
Fans may recall that game back in 2019 when Garoppolo hit tight end George Kittle on fourth down, and Kittle dragged three Saints defenders and drew a facemask penalty to set up the Niners’ game-winning field goal.
Somewhat forgotten was Garoppolo’s four-touchdown effort in a duel against then-Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
While Jimmy G might not need to have that kind of performance against New Orleans on Sunday, he’ll still have to stay on his hot streak.
49ers need Jimmy Garoppolo to stay hot vs. Saints
Garoppolo versus Brees was quite the matchup back in 2019. Garoppolo matching up opposite New Orleans’ current starter, Andy Dalton, is a little less inspiring.
However, one of the key ways in which the Saints can overcome being more than a touchdown underdog against San Francisco would be if Garoppolo is careless, particularly not taking care of the ball and risking a turnover.
Luckily, this is something he’s mostly avoided doing, not just over the last three games in which he hasn’t tossed an interception, but all year long. To date, Garoppolo’s interception percentage on the year is 1.5, which would mark a career-low number.
There’s another boost here, too, as the Saints aren’t exactly known for generating interceptions. Entering Week 12, they’re tied for dead last in the NFL with just two picks, suggesting they’ll have a tough time picking Garoppolo off even if he throws the occasionally questionable pass.
Yet that’s not the lone reason why Garoppolo needs to be effective on Sunday.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers will face Saints stacking the box
Arizona is pretty good at defending against the run. The Chargers, meanwhile, aren’t good at defending the run.
New Orleans is much more like the latter, giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry and coming off a stretch of three games where opponents have averaged 184.3 rush yards per game.
Considering how much the 49ers will want to run the ball anyway, one should expect the Saints to stack the box with six, seven or potentially even eight defenders, thereby forcing Garoppolo to throw.
If Jimmy G was going through a cold streak, this might be an effective strategy. However, considering Garoppolo has played well as of late, the Saints may essentially be setting themselves up for a “pick your poison” scenario in which they choose to be beaten by running back Christian McCaffrey and the ground game or by Garoppolo and his arsenal of receiving weapons.
Neither is ideal.
However, Garoppolo needs to hold up his end of the bargain and be both effective and potent with his efforts when these two teams kick off on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 4:25 p.m. ET.