Garoppolo Ignites 49ers Offense…And Defense
It may be safe to say that the San Francisco 49ers have finally found their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. After eight weeks of ineffectiveness at the quarterback position from both veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie C.J. Beathard, the 49ers acquired Garoppolo’s services back in late October via trade from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 2nd-round draft pick. And since Garoppolo’s arrival in San Francisco, things appear to be on the upswing for the 49ers.
Unlike Hoyer (who was released by the 49ers after the Garoppolo trade and is currently backing up quarterback Tom Brady with the Patriots), the former Eastern Illinois quarterback has demonstrated during his four career starts with both San Francisco and New England that he doesn’t fold under pressure. And despite the jury still being out on whether Garoppolo can be an elite quarterback in the league one day, there is no denying that the fourth-year veteran possesses many intangibles that can bring a quarterback lots of success in a quarterback driven league. These intangibles may have already been instilled in Garoppolo at an early age, but you also don’t backup one of the greatest in Brady for three and a half seasons while in New England and not pick up any pointers.
One quality that Garoppolo possesses along with Beathard is toughness, as evident last Sunday’s 26-16 win over the Houston Texans where “Jimmy G.” was sacked twice and hit nine times during the game. And while Beathard has more knowledge of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, the former Iowa Hawkeye has shown through his five starts that the speed of the NFL may take some time to catch up on. And that is the area that gives Garoppolo the advantage.
Not only has Garoppolo performed exceptionally well since taking over for Beathard, but he has also provided a much needed spark to the offense. For example, 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has recorded 14 receptions for 205 yards in Garoppolo’s two starts with the 49ers. Once known for only possessing the speed to take off the tops of an opposing secondary, Goodwin has become more focal in the offense and is making the most of every opportunity presented to him.
In Sunday’s victory over the Texans, 49ers tight end Garrett Celek had two catches for 67 yards. The first reception went for 61 yards (the longest of his career) which would set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Celek later on the same drive during the third quarter. Even fullback Kyle Juszczyk got in the mix by tallying a career-high 64 yards receiving…which included an incredible sideline reception on the sideline while being draped between two Texans defenders. And running back Carlos Hyde only ran the ball 14 times against the Texans, but averaged over five yards a carry to tally 78 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Now even though Garoppolo plays on the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers defense has also reaped the benefits from the newest quarterback in town as well. During the 2017 Pre-Garoppolo Era, three-and-out drives and inconsistencies from the 49ers offense always took a toll on the defensive side and added more pressure on the unit to make stops. And when these misfortunes happened on the offensive side of the ball, the defense would be noticeably gasses by the middle of the third quarter and opposing teams would take advantage.
But if you fast forward to the Garoppolo Era, the comparison is completely night and day. Garoppolo has been able to string together time-consuming drives in his two starts, which in turn has given the 49ers defense more time to rest…a luxury this unit rarely experienced for most of the season due to the past inconsistencies on offense. And the fact the 49ers defense is currently very talented but not as experienced yet, having Garoppolo on the field for an extensive amount of time helps out and doesn’t put as much pressure on the defense.
The presence of Garoppolo has undoubtedly not only lifted the morale inside the 49ers locker room but also within Niner Faithful as well. In the short amount of time in San Francisco, Garoppolo seems to have already gained the respect and trust of his teammates and coaches. The fact that Garoppolo can make a bunch of role players step up their play to better the team is not one that can be ignored. And if he can work wonders with the current personnel that the 49ers have on offense, just imagine what Garoppolo can accomplish in 2018 when 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Shanahan work their magic during this offseason.
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