News flash: Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal. The San Francisco 49ers’ QB1 is 3-0 as a starter, after leading the Niners to a 25-23 victory over the Tennessee Titans, and that’s with a shaky offensive line, few offensive weapons, and having been in Santa Clara a minute.
“He’s been just as good as advertised, if not better,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Can you say Franchise Quarterback? Cool. I can too.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tennessee Titans
The now 4-10 49ers came into today’s game against the Titans at 3-10 and riding a two-game win streak with their new quarterback under center. The Titans were the toughest test of the Garoppolo era thus far, coming in at 8-5 and fighting for their playoff lives.
Shanahan told his team this week that he wanted them to play with the intensity of a team trying for the postseason, and they did.
“Well, I’ve just been most proud of our guys being able to not let adversity affect them,” said Shanahan. “I feel like that’s affected us a lot throughout this year. In these last three games, by no means at all have they been perfect. We’ve had lulls in all three phases at sometimes. We’ve had some bad penalties. Had some real bad times. We’ve had some turnovers at some inopportune times. But, guys just stayed the same throughout the game. They haven’t let it get to them. I think they’ve been pretty resilient and they fought ‘til the end. I think it’s one of the reasons we pulled out four of our last five.”
The 49ers dominated the majority of the first half but the momentum shifted towards the end of the second quarter when wide receiver Trent Taylor had a dropped pass and the 49ers couldn’t get anything going on that drive. The Titans took over with 1:37 in the half and quarterback Marcus Mariota led an impressive touchdown drive bringing Tennessee within six.
The third quarter was all Titans, as they had the ball for 12:03 and the 49ers had it for 2:57. Tennessee took the lead in the 4th on a touchdown pass from Mariota to Richard Matthews, while the Niners answered with 50-yard Robbie Gould field goal, one of his six on the day, to make it 20-19 Tennessee.
The teams traded two more field goals, and it was 23-22 Tennessee with 1:07 left in the game.
“Everyone just has to do their job,” said tight end George Kittle. We practice the two-minute drill every single day, so it’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at. Guys just have to step up, do their job and make the play whenever their name is called. We knew that we would be able to drive down and get a field goal or even a touchdown.”
Everyone did indeed do their job, as The Jimmy Magic took over as he completed passes to Taylor, Kittle, and finally his right hand man Marquise Goodwin. Gould made a 45-yard field goal as time ran out. Signed. Sealed. Delivered. Niners win.
“[Garoppolo] just went right down,” said Shanahan. “It was fun. He looked poised as can be. We walk through it every day. You never really get full speed reps during the season at two minutes. Guys are just too tired. That was a great drive at the end.”
The Jimmy Effect
Garoppolo finished the day 31-43 for 381 yards, a touchdown and a QBR of 106.8. Per Nick Wagoner of ESPN, Garoppolo has a passer rating of 122 in the 4th quarter a 49er.
“…[S]ome of the off schedule plays he’s made have been pretty impressive,” said Shanahan. “There’s been a couple times where especially earlier on, where he ends up looking the wrong way where you think it’s going to be a rough outcome and he ends up just finding a way still to make a play even when he’s a little bit unsure. I think when you have that arm talent and can make quick decisions, he’s always got a chance.”
The 49ers were 7-14 on third downs They’re still having trouble scoring touchdowns, but this offense is clicking in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. The touchdowns will come.
“He’s just very in tune with everybody,” said Goodwin. “It’s crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever played with anybody like him. If you look, my route, it may have been a good route and it may have not, but I don’t have to run a perfect route.”
The Titans’ defense was a blitzing parade all day, but that didn’t both QB1.
“I love it when they blitz us like that,” Garoppolo said. “It makes everything a lot easier. I think we took advantage of it in the right way and got some big plays out of it.”
Add the leadership skills in there, and Garoppolo’s teammates can’t say enough good things about him.
“Jimmy is honestly different than most quarterbacks that I’ve been with because he’s so passionate and fiery,” said fullback Kyle Juszczyck. “You don’t see that a lot from quarterbacks. He’s out there pumping us up and keeping us locked in on the sidelines. He does a great job of that.”
Marquise Goodwin – #1 Wide Receiver
It’s clear that Marquise Goodwin has found the right QB for him in Garoppolo. He finished today with 10 receptions for 104 yards and has 24 for 319 yards since Garoppolo took over as the starter.
“Marquise has been unbelievable,” said Shanahan. “I think he’s made a huge jump throughout this year. We put a lot of pressure on Quise going into this year. He had never started before and we brought him here to do that for us. He had some up and down times at the beginning. By no means would I say he played bad, but he just wasn’t as consistent…I’ve been real impressed with Quise because as you guys can all see in this second half of the year, especially with Pierre down, he’s really taken a lot on his shoulders. He’s been through a lot and he’s responded well. You guys see it on the field. We see it in practice throughout the week. He’s turned into a true pro and he’s playing like a legit starter.”
He’s clearly Garoppolo’s favorite target, and with the numbers I mentioned above, it’s obvious why.
“Quise is one of the first guys that came up when I first got here and said hi to me and introduced himself,” Garoppolo said. “He’s just a hard worker, you really got to tip your hat to that. The extra time that we put in, not even just with him, but with all the skill position players. The extra meetings we have, the stuff in practice, the extra routes, it’s starting to pay off now.”
He also saved what would have been an interception. With 11:39 to go in the second quarter, Goodwin fought Erik Walden for the ball and it was ruled a catch for Goodwin. It was challenged, but the call stood. Garoppolo appreciated that.
“He was just like, ‘Did you catch it?’ I told him, ‘Yeah I caught it. I’ve got you,'” Goodwin said. “He’s a great guy, a great QB, throwing dimes, making plays and extending drives. That’s what you want in a quarterback.”
Goodwin has had a difficult year personally, and it did not get any easier this week, as his biological father passed away.
“I’m blessed,” said Goodwin. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. God has shown me so much in this season. I had a lot going on this year losing my baby and I just recently lost my biological father this week. It’s just been a lot, but I really didn’t let the outside negative energy affect how I play, how I approach this game or how I come to work each day. I just kind of stayed positive and kept my mind fresh, and I relied on God to bring me through all of the situations that I’ve been through.”
Goodwin is an incredible person. Truly incredible.
The Goldest of Them All
In a sea of red and gold, one Gould stands above them all and that is kicker Robbie Gould, who was 6/6 today, including the 45-yard game winner.
“I think Robbie’s playing as good as anyone I’ve had,” Shanahan said. “When he goes out there, I never think he’s going to miss it. He’s been automatic…I wish we were scoring touchdowns more, but the fact that every time we don’t he makes it. He’s been unbelievable this year.”
Gould has 36 field goals this season, including 20 straight and 15 the last three weeks. Given the 49ers issues in the red zone, this consistency is key, especially on today’s final drive.
“He’s in the zone, I know how that is,” Garoppolo said. “…Just going out for the two-minute drill, we went and handled our business and he handled his. That’s what a good team does.”
Yes. Yes it is.
This season has had its share of ups and downs, but as a veteran in the league, Gould sees the future of the 49ers and he’s happy to be a part of it.
“This is one of, if not my favorite season I’ve ever played in 13 years,” Gould said. “Some people might say ‘Your record is what it is.’ I think there’s something to be said about the brick by brick that Kyle and John [Lynch] are putting together. It’s pretty fun to watch it all kind of gel, get out there every Sunday knowing you have a chance to win. Guys are excited about playing. We talk about beating playoff teams. That team is in the playoff hunt. We talked about setting a tone if we want to be in these games and get ready for those games next year. We’re playing playoff football right now. Even though we’re not going there, that’s the type of football we need to play. You saw a lot of that today, and the guys responded pretty well.”
It was a good day at Levi’s Stadium. Center Daniel Kilgore said it had a Candlestick feel and it did. The rebuild is building, brick by brick, win by win. Next up, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Go Niners!Don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly podcast and YouTube channel. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @49ersfangirl. Go Niners!