Has Kyle Shanahan been holding back Jimmy Garoppolo this entire time?
It's no secret that Garoppolo's best stretch of games came in 2017 before he fully grasped Shanahan's system. Back then, Garoppolo was throwing for 300 yards per game routinely. But the past few years, he became a mistake-prone game manager whom the 49ers didn't trust to throw often or downfield. That's why they run so much.
But when Garoppolo replaced Trey Lance in the first quarter this past Sunday, Garoppolo immediately started pushing the ball down the field like he hadn't done since 2017. I asked him about that today.
ME: After the game, you said it felt like 2017 again. You really were pushing the ball downfield in that game more than you had the past couple seasons. Is that something you want to do this season -- push the ball downfield more?
GAROPPOLO: I love that, yeah. There's a lot of things that go with that obviously, but yeah, I love doing that stuff. In '17, there was a freedom, where me and the receivers and the tight ends, we had a good chemistry going. When you get that with offensive skill players and quarterback, it makes for a tough offense.
ME: Do you feel you had that freedom last week just because you were coming off the bench or do you anticipate having it the rest of the season?
GAROPPOLO: I don't know. That's a fair question. I think we'll see that as we go forward. The more freedom you have as a quarterback, you'll play better, you're more confident and good things will happen.
Q: Were you asked or coached to play differently after 2017?
GAROPPOLO: In '17, I was learning the offense. Kyle would call plays, and I wouldn't know exactly how to read it, but you figure it out as you go. The more and more that you learned the offense and got the knowledge of the offense, I started to figure out what Kyle was thinking and vice versa -- there's obviously some back and forth between the play caller and the quarterback.
GRANT'S INTERPRETATION: It sounds like Garoppolo thinks Shanahan has been micromanaging him to a fault the past few seasons. If that's true, Shanahan needs to give Garoppolo the freedom he desires. Look at how Mike McDaniel has empowered Tua Tagovailoa and built up his confidence. Shanahan should be able to do the same with Garoppolo. And if Garoppolo starts hitting passes down the field, the 49ers absolutely can win the Super Bowl with him.