Why Jimmy Garoppolo Will be Vastly Improved in 2020
Jose Luis Sanchez III
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been the topic of discussion since his horrendous fourth-quarter performance in Super Bowl LIV. It is to be expected to a certain extent since his shortcomings is one of the reasons why the 49ers collapsed to the Chiefs.
However, the slander and criticism of Garoppolo has gone overboard.
Yes, he deserves all the slack for stumbling in the end of the Super Bowl, but he was not the sole reason the 49ers lost that game. The fact that his name is still being dragged through the mud for that game is outrageous.
His critics are treating him like a busted top draft pick, when the reality is that he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in his first full season as a starter. It's as if people forget that 2019 is the first time he started in 16 games or more.
That is why Garoppolo will be vastly improved in 2020.
Now that he has a full season under his belt, he will be able to reflect upon himself. He'll actually have the chance to see his flaws and correct them during the offseason. That is something that he could not do last year since he was still recovering and rehabbing from his torn ACL injury. That little tidbit is vastly overlooked when considering Garoppolo's 2020 season.
Last offseason, his full focus was on getting his knee back in shape. To allow his body to feel fully comfortable with it. He was basically learning how to become a football player again with all of the basics to test his knee out. It is never an easy process considering the severity of his injury. Garoppolo could have easily looked scared all last season in fear of his knee, but that was never the case.
Whenever he was hit, he got back up like nothing. Look no further than the week 16 matchup with the Rams, where he was basically best friends with the grass. Garoppolo was battered all night long in that game, yet drive after drive he stood in the pocket to deliver the ball. If it wasn't clear prior to that game, it certainly was clear after it that his mental state was strong. Plenty of quarterbacks have sustained severe injuries and are a shell of themselves afterwards (Robert Griffin III, Derek Carr, etc.).
So this offseason is essentially his first real offseason. Notice the trend here? Everything is a first for him. The high-standards that critics place on him are because he is a quarterback on an elite team. Like George Kittle said on Mar. 31 when he appeared on ESPN First Take, "How is that his fault?".
Garoppolo was far from perfect last season. But he was good enough to get the 49ers to the promise land. He averaged 8.4 yards per attempt in 2019, and the 49ers led the entire NFL with a 12% explosive pass rate. He was good with some great moments - versus Seattle week 17, Rams week 16, Saints week 14. It was those great moments that should give enough belief that Garoppolo has not reached his ceiling yet.
Now I am not saying Garoppolo will reach the level of performance that was put on display in week 14 against the Saints. That game was truly magical to be able to win a shootout against one of the greats in Drew Brees. But he will be a quarterback that can impose his will on a game more often.
In fact, I will go as far as to guarantee he will be that. All the criticism that is being thrown out there, along with losing the Super Bowl, is going to fuel Garoppolo. During his exit interview, Garoppolo mentioned about "remember this feeling" when the confetti was raining down following the conclusion of that game. You can see his full interview below.
That fire that was lit from the loss in the Super Bowl should keep him pushing forward. It'll allow him to reach new heights in 2020. Winning will still be priority No. 1 for Garoppolo, but this time he will need more of an influence. Or at the very least, be in a position where he is ready to handle the burden at all times again.