Everyone knew San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a nice game with a clutch game-winning drive against the Tennessee Titans last week. We could all see how well he played on our screens.
What we didn’t see at the time was how Garoppolo orchestrated that final drive, and it was incredible. Garoppolo was wearing a mic’ed up for the game, and the NFL’s “Turning Point” show showed him before and during the two-minute drill. Amazingly enough, Garoppolo talked to the three receivers who made key catches on the drive — rookie receiver Trent Taylor, rookie tight end George Kittle and receiver Marquise Goodwin — and told them what defenses they would see, and how to run their routes to get open. It was a fine display of not only leadership, but also understanding every detail he needed to know to drive the 49ers downfield (in the video above, Garoppolo’s side sessions with the receivers before the drive starts at about 2:16).
Taylor gained 7 yards (“We want to hit the middle because their safeties are super wide,” Garoppolo told him on the sideline). Kittle gained 24 yards (“Slip them, and look as you’re slipping them, I’ll bang it on you. He has to turn his hips. The safeties are so deep bro, you’re going to get an extra 10-12 yards,” Garoppolo told Kittle). Goodwin got 14 more (“I’ll bend you across a little bit. If he’s playing on top of you though, you could do one of these, and then go,” Garoppolo said to Goodwin. “Just feel it out. Be a football player.”). A few plays later the 49ers kicked a field goal as time expired to win. Garoppolo finished with 381 yards, and the 49ers have won all four of his starts.
We can all see Garoppolo’s talent through his three 49ers starts, and we could see it when he got to play in New England. He knows where to go with the ball, and he throws it with velocity and accuracy. But what you see on that clip is what can separate quarterbacks. Plenty of NFL quarterbacks are physical marvels. The mastery of the game, like Garoppolo showed in the clip above, and the ability to communicate it to the receivers and also execute it, is rare. Keep in mind, Garoppolo has only five career starts. He’s going to get better.
Garoppolo will become a free agent in the offseason. The 49ers are going to have to pay him big, or give him the franchise tag. Because if for some reason the 49ers let him hit the open market, some other team would give Garoppolo that big payday. What you saw in the video above is the reason why.
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