Garoppolo Leads the 49ers to a victory and into a new era.
Last week, during what is commonly referred to as “garbage time” against the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo replaced C.J. Beathard after a minor injury and for a moment – 49ers Faithfuls saw the future.
Garoppolo took only 18 seconds to show off his mobility, accuracy and poise under pressure, running close to a first down, converting a 4th down play and throwing a touchdown on the run to Louis Murphy Jr. with time expired. All of a sudden, after a disappointing blowout loss to the 49ers worst rivals, fans’and thoughts changed to hope and excitement for the future. It felt like after eating very good cheeseburgers week after week, your taste buds were met with bite of a succulent slice of prime rib.
So, on Sunday, the stage was set, the hype was built and the fans were salivating, in the midst of the holiday season, Christmas came early– it was finally time to see Jimmy G.
It was an unseasonably warm day at Soldier Field as #10 sauntered onto the field with the calm, deliberate presence of a quarterback that studied under Tom Brady. The Brady comparisons didn’t end there either. Garoppolo stood calm under pressure as he delivered accurate passes while rolling out of the pocket, scrambling for first downs and looking like the gridiron general that the 49ers have been searching for.
Garoppolo threw for 293 yards with no touchdowns and one interception on 26/37 passing. Carlos Hyde led the rushing attack with 54 yard on 17 attempts while Breida shared the load with 45 yards in 12 attempts. Marquise Goodwin caught eight balls for 99 yards and Trent Taylor had six receptions for 92 yards.
The debut was outstanding, but certainly wasn’t perfect. Garoppolo threw his first career interception, although it wasn’t his fault. He threw a perfect strike to Louis Murphy Jr. which Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller ripped out of his hands. After the game Murphy said, “It was a bang-bang play.” He said “I tucked it in, he (Fuller) had both hands on it and when I got hit the ball kinda jarred loose and he got it.” Murphy also talked glowingly about Garoppolo including praising him for his trust on a pass he completed to him in triple coverage.
Also, the Niners didn’t find the end zone in Sunday’s game, even though Garoppolo led five brilliant red zone drives. This left all the scoring to Robbie Gould who pushed through five field goals, including the game winner with eight seconds left on the clock.
It had all the looks and feels one would expect from the beginning of a new era for the 49ers. While the deficiencies the Niners have seen all season, still shone through, the secondary and offensive line both played more inspired ball than they have all season. The 49ers also still struggled in the red zone settling for five field goals to collect all of their points. However, of the eight 49ers offensive drives, only three didn’t lead to points, which were two punts and the Fuller interception. The 49ers defense gave up a touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky to Dontrelle Inman in the middle of the end zone, but also forced the Bears to punt the ball five times. The Bears also scored on a brilliant 61-yard punt return by Tarik Cohen. While it was a significant special teams blunder, it was really Cohen doing what Cohen does, conjuring up memories of Devin Hester.
So, the Garoppolo era has begun in earnest for the Niners and the league is abuzz with what the future holds for the Brady protégé and the 49ers. Next week, the 49ers travel to Houston and then on December 17, the home fans will get their first extended look at Jimmy G leading the 49ers onto the field against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans.
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