Jimmy G(etting Better)

Starting this week, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo enters a favorable stretch. Will he continue his run of recent success?
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Just two weeks ago, all-cap tweets of “BENCH JIMMY G,” “TRADE JIMMY G” or “TANK FOR TREVOR” filled 49er Twitter timelines. 

But after two straight quality Jimmy Garoppolo performances against well-coached defenses, the conversation has shifted back to playoff aspirations. 

Garoppolo is the best option for 2020, and (people over 27 are going to hate this) 2021 as well. 

He’s not perfect, but he’s showing signs of the mid-2019/late-2017 quarterback 49er fans adored. He’s played well in two straight games returning the 49ers to the NFC Playoff hunt. 

The offense, and Garoppolo, are designed to excel with an established run game. 

Predictively, Garoppolo and the 49ers’ resurgence has coincided with Kyle Shanahan’s rededication to the run. 

Garoppolo keeps the ball close to the line, but that’s also where his receivers thrive. The 49ers are built with YAC-receivers. His job isn’t to throw them open, it’s to get them the ball and let them make plays. 

When he’s not getting blindsided by Dolphin pass-rushers, Garoppolo puts the 49ers in position to win. He only has eight losses in 32 starts with San Francisco. Only the injury-hindered Miami loss was by more than 11 points. 

Although it wasn’t fantasy-friendly, Garoppolo’s performance in the 49ers’ Week 7 win over New England was another step toward top-12 QB form. 

Before anyone says Garoppolo did nothing but shovel or hand off the ball, go re-watch the first drive. His stats as a whole were inflamed by easy passes, but that first drive had three-and-out written all over it. 

The 49ers were third-and-3 to start the game and Garoppolo dropped back to pass. He was immediately pressured and there were no check downs in sight. 

But the “immobile” quarterback escaped the rush, broke a tackle and dove for the first down. He could’ve easily packed it in, punted, and said we’ll get them next time. But he didn’t. When was the last time you saw him do that? 

Garoppolo would complete his next four passes before Jeff Wilson Jr. put the 49ers on top with his first of three touchdowns. 

When Kyle Shanahan loosened the leash, Garoppolo did a few things he had yet to do in 2020. He made progressions, took some shots and got the ball to his check-down receiver instead of taking a drive-killing sack. 

In their first drive of the third quarter, Garoppolo hit Brandon Aiyuk on a 35-yard bomb. He also hit George Kittle on two third-down-converting out routes. When’s the last time Garoppolo made those throws? Week 16 or 17 of last season? 

It was one week. But baby steps, people. That’s better than zero. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The next three weeks might be his most favorable stretch. 

Seattle has allowed seven passes of over 40 yards this season. That’s the most in the NFL. The Seahawks have also allowed 19.3 passing first downs per game (first in NFL), 2,212 passing yards (second in NFL) and 7.8 yards per attempt (tied for sixth in NFL). 

The Saints (111.6) and the Packers (107.7) are bottom five in opponent passer rating as both their secondaries (outside of Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander) have severely underperformed. 

Garoppolo won’t ever be Joe Montana, Steve Young or any of the quarterbacks he’s compared to, but he’s showing signs of improvement and is the right guy to keep the 49ers in contention. 

This could be the start of Garoppolo’s ascension. 

Follow me on Twitter @Mavpallack