49ers Impressed With Jimmy Garoppolo's Improved Decision-Making

The 49ers grade Garoppolo on a curve, as they should. He’s almost 29, but it seems they think of him as a 24-year old, because he has started only 27 games in the NFL.
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The 49ers gave Jimmy Garoppolo measured praise after his third training camp with the team

On Sunday, the final day of camp, Garoppolo threw a whopping six touchdown passes in the red zone, including two against the 49ers’ starting defense. But he also threw a pick-six. And it was his third pick-six and sixth interception in 12 practices.

After Sunday’s session, a reporter asked defensive coordinator Robert Saleh for his perspective on Garoppolo. Saleh is brilliant and articulate and he gave extremely specific observations of the 49ers quarterback.

“He seems more decisive,” Saleh said. “A year ago, people forget it was really his second year technically starting, because his first year he got hurt really early. Some could argue last year was his first year starting. His comfort level in the scheme and what Kyle and our staff are asking of him, what each play is asking of him, and so he’s much more decisive with the football.

“And he has such amazing arm talent, that the quicker he can be decisive -- and when I say, ‘decisive,’ I mean decisive where that ball is in his hands and then out when he hits his back foot in his drop -- it’s a thing of beauty. And you’re seeing more and more of it throughout camp where there’s less, ‘Where do I go with the ball?’ There’s less holding on to it.

“He is a very decisive quarterback, and I can only imagine it’s only going to get better and better once they get into game-planning. He’s talented and everyone in the building has a tremendous amount of confidence in him.”

The 49ers always have loved Garoppolo’s arm -- it’s why they traded for him. But arm talent isn’t enough. An elite quarterback must be an elite decision-maker as well. And the 49ers pay Garoppolo to be elite, not merely good.

Check out what Saleh said about Kirk Cousins the week before the 49ers faced the Vikings in the playoffs. Remember, the 49ers absolutely love Cousins and initially intended to sign him during the 2018 offseason before the Patriots offered to trade them Garoppolo at the 2017 trade deadline.

“He's very, very decisive with the football,” Saleh said of Cousins. “He knows exactly where he needs to go. The pre-snap movement of the defense or the post-snap movement of the defense doesn't really fool him very often. He knows post-snap, by the time he hits his back foot, where the ball needs to go. He knows where everyone is on the football field. Because of it, he can make a very smart decision. It’s his decision making in his mind and how quick it works when he's in his drop, all that stuff. He's worth every penny they pay him.”

Extremely high praise.

The 49ers never have explicitly said Garoppolo is worth every penny they pay him, because technically he isn’t worth the $27 million he earns annually until he becomes an elite quarterback who makes consistently great decisions, not just quick ones.

But the 49ers grade Garoppolo on a curve, as they should. He’s almost 29, but it seems they think of him as a 24-year old, because he has started only 27 games in the NFL. As opposed to Cousins, who has started 88 games.

The 49ers don’t expect Garoppolo to be as good of a decision-maker as Cousins yet. But they Garoppolo to improve. And so far, he has. They seem encouraged about his development.

It’s nice to know exactly what the 49ers think of him.