Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

What the 49ers know about Jimmy Garoppolo after 16…

6 min read
What the 49ers know about Jimmy Garoppolo after 16...

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, questions about his ability and durability have lingered since he joined the team.

Last weekend, Garoppolo hit two milestones that in most cases wouldn’t qualify as milestones. Garoppolo made his 16th NFL start, the equivalent of a full season, and his sixth consecutive start, the first time he’s reached that mark.

Those numbers are meaningless to most starting quarterbacks. While Garoppolo doesn’t seem too interested in them, either, they are notable because it’s taken him five seasons plus seven weeks to get here.

“It’s just been nice to go through the season with him so far,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “To come in at the end of the year when we were 1-9 — to play those last five games, which was kind of a little bit different, a little crazy. Then, to come back the next year and he tore his ACL in the third game. Now, for him to come back … it’s been fun.”

It’s also been important for both Garoppolo and the Niners. The 2018 season was supposed to be Garoppolo’s official unveiling, his first season as the full-time starter. Instead, he played just short of three full games before the knee injury ended his season.

The excitement and buzz that surrounded Garoppolo were replaced by question marks. After some difficult moments in the preseason — including a 0.0 passer rating against the Denver Broncos in the second preseason game and a five-interception day in practice the week before that — some began to wonder how safe Garoppolo’s spot might be for 2020 and beyond.

Garoppolo, 27, has put most those concerns to rest.

Now, after signing him to a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension, the Niners are finally beginning to see what they have in Garoppolo — and vice versa — and where that relationship could go in the future.

“I wanted to really go through a whole season with him last year, where you could go through those ups and downs as a starting quarterback goes through, because he never got to go through a season as a starting quarterback,” Shanahan said. “He’s done a lot of good things and he’s getting better each week. Hopefully we can continue to protect him and he’ll continue to get better.”

Sifting through statistics tells a tale of a quarterback who has had the stops and starts Garoppolo has since entering the league with the New England Patriots in 2014. That has made it impossible to make sweeping declarations about his progress based strictly on numbers.

Garoppolo has had big games, games where he’s struggled and plenty in between. But whether you think he’s a franchise quarterback, a game manager, a gunslinger who needs to cut down on bad decisions or a combination of all of those, there’s one stat that can’t be considered dumb luck given the sample size: his record.

After slogging through Sunday’s 9-0 victory against Washington, Garoppolo is now 14-2 as a starter, 12-2 with the 49ers. Say what you want about measuring a quarterback by the team’s record, but it’s hard to pin that type of production on random chance over an extended period.

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