Jimmy Garoppolo is a good quarterback, and he's having one of the best three-game stretches of his career.
Props to him.
But despite his recent brief quality stretch, Garoppolo still is the same limited quarterback the 49ers wanted to replace this offseason. And he still makes way too much money. The 49ers are paying him 13.4 percent of their cap space this season to be an elite, top-10 quarterback, but at best he's a complimentary, safety-first game manager.
Against the Rams this past Monday night, Garoppolo had perhaps the best start of his career. But he didn't have to do much. He attempted a mere 19 passes, completing 15, and threw for fewer than 200 yards. No big deal. Without a dominant performance from their defense and run game, they probably would have lost.
The 49ers ran the ball 44 times -- a season high -- plus Jimmie Ward intercepted Rams QB Matthew Stafford twice in the first quarter. Which means Garoppolo's job was manageable. He simply needed to hand off, make short throws over the middle and move the chains on third down, all of which he did terrificly.
But there will come a time this season when he has to do more. And against the Rams, he was unwilling to throw the ball downfield. Late in the third quarter, Kyle Shanahan called a deep shot for Trent Sherfield, who was wide open. Garoppolo looked at him, but quickly looked away and threw an incomplete pass to Jauan Jennings, who was closer to the line of scrimmage and heavily covered.
Garoppolo owed it to the team to throw that pass to Sherfield. Everyone around him did their job correctly -- the offensive line, the intended receiver got open, the play caller. Everyone. Throw the freaking ball, Jimmie.
But he didn't, because he won't. Not consistently. And that's why he should not be the 49ers' starting quarterback next season, no matter how efficiently he plays to finish this season.
The 49ers need to aim higher at quarterback.
UPDATE: I asked Garoppolo today about this play. Here's what I asked and what he said.
Q: You had a terrific game against the Rams. I'm not trying to nitpick you. There was one play in the third quarter that head coach Kyle Shanahan you could see he called a shot deep for WR Trent Sherfield and you didn't throw it. I looked like he was open. I'm just curious after watching the film why didn’t you throw it?
GAROPPOLO: "It was a, yeah that was definitely a shot play. Just when I was rolling out, I forget who they were pinning, the D-End that they were pinning, I felt him kind of making a move and I don't know, just at that time of the game, it's a touchy subject, I guess you could say. I don't know. You want to take the big shot, but at the same time you don't want to make a stupid play, get a strip-sack, something like that. It's just the feel of the game, I guess. Looking back I wish I would've thrown it, but is what it is."
Check out the play below: