Jimmy Garoppolo’s middle of the field woes continue on interception vs. Titans

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  • San Francisco 49ers
    San Francisco 49ers
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  • Tennessee Titans
    Tennessee Titans
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  • Jimmy Garoppolo
    Jimmy Garoppolo
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Some quarterbacks just aren’t comfortable with throwing passes over the middle of the field. They diagnose things late, they pull the trigger late, and things tend to go wrong. Coverages in which the middle of the field is closed have always been a problem for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and even as Garoppolo has been on quite the hot streak in the second half of the 2021 season, his middle of the field issues continue.

Overall, from Weeks 10-15, only Aaron Rodgers (117.1) has a higher passer rating than Garoppolo’s 110.2, which Garoppolo amassed by completing 113 of 161 passes (70.2%) for 1,418 yards (8.8 yards per attempt), 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions. It’s been the best prolonged stretch of Garoppolo’s career, but that one bugaboo — reading and reacting to coverage over the middle of the field — has continued to haunt him. When the middle of the field is closed — “MOFC” in football parlance — Garoppolo tends to shut down, as well.

Per Sports Info Solutions, from Weeks 10-15, on passes charted to the middle of the field, Garoppolo has completed 17 of 24 for 273 yards, one touchdown, all three of those interceptions, and a passer rating of 81.8.

Then, with 1:36 left in the first quarter of the 49ers’ Thursday night game against the Titans to open Week 16, Garoppolo tried to hit tight end George Kittle in the end zone, only to miss the presence of cornerback Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins. The result was Garoppolo’s fourth interception of the second half of the season on passes thrown over the middle, and his league-leading eighth overall in the 2021 season — Trevor Lawrence and Lamar Jackson are tied for second in the full season with five picks thrown over the middle.

The 49ers came into this contest with five wins in their last six games and a legitimate shot at a high playoff seed, but if Garoppolo isn’t able to get past a MOFC problem he’s had his entire career, how far can they go?