top of page

False Prophet: Why Jimmy Garoppolo's stint with the 49ers was nothing other than overrated

Following the San Francisco 49ers' recent defeat in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and delve into Jimmy Garoppolo's time with the 49ers. While it was a tumultuous journey marked by peaks and valleys, I primarily viewed his stint as a member of the San Francisco 49ers to be overhyped. Here's why...

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo was hailed as the team's franchise quarterback and expected to lead them to sustained success—some analysts even claimed his tenure with San Francisco would come close to the likes of Joe Montana. Nevertheless, that never came to fruition.  Despite leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance and exhibiting flashes of brilliance, Garoppolo faced criticism for his inconsistency, injury proneness, and perceived limitations as a franchise quarterback. In this comprehensive analysis, we will delve deep into the factors contributing to the perception of Garoppolo as overrated, while also examining the intricate workings of the San Francisco 49ers' offensive scheme under the guidance of head coach Kyle Shanahan.

One of the fundamental metrics used to evaluate quarterbacks is completion percentage, which measures the percentage of passes completed out of attempts. While Garoppolo has posted respectable completion percentages throughout his career, his accuracy on intermediate and deep throws has been a point of contention. Advanced metrics such as completion percentage above expectation (CPOE) provide a more nuanced evaluation of accuracy, accounting for factors such as pass distance, depth of target, and coverage. Garoppolo's CPOE has consistently ranked below average among NFL quarterbacks, indicating that his completion percentage may be inflated by a high volume of short, high-percentage throws within Kyle Shanahan's system.

Turnovers can be a critical factor in determining a quarterback's effectiveness and impact on a game. Advanced statistics such as turnover-worthy play percentage (TWP%) and interception-worthy throw rate (IWTR) provide insight into a quarterback's propensity for making risky decisions that lead to turnovers. Despite his relatively low interception rate, Garoppolo's TWP% and IWTR have often been higher than league average, suggesting that he has been fortunate to avoid interceptions on plays that could have easily been turnovers. Furthermore, Garoppolo's fumble rate has been among the highest in the league among starting quarterbacks, highlighting his struggles with ball security and pocket awareness under pressure. Furthermore, adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) is a comprehensive metric that incorporates passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, and sacks to evaluate a quarterback's overall efficiency. While Garoppolo's ANY/A has been respectable, it is important to consider his performance in the context of air yards, which measure the distance the ball travels in the air on completed passes. Garoppolo's average air yards per attempt (AY/A) have consistently ranked among the lowest in the league, indicating a reliance on short, high-percentage passes that may inflate his traditional efficiency metrics. This suggests that while Garoppolo's completion percentage and passer rating may appear impressive, they may not accurately reflect his ability to consistently generate chunk plays and stretch the field vertically.

Quarterbacks are often judged by their ability to perform under pressure and make plays when facing pass rushers.

Furthermore, advanced metrics such as quarterback rating under pressure (QBR-PR) and completion percentage under pressure (C% under pressure) provide insight into a quarterback's performance in high-pressure situations. Garoppolo's QBR-PR and C% under pressure have been below league average, indicating a decline in performance when faced with pressure from opposing defenses. This indicates that Garoppolo has struggled to maintain his efficiency and accuracy when forced to operate under duress, raising concerns about his ability to elevate his game in critical moments.

As we transition to our next point, it's clear that Jimmy G's performance was characterized by significant inconsistency.

Jimmy Garoppolo's performances have been characterized by highs and lows, with moments of brilliance interspersed with bouts of inconsistency. Though he showcased his ability to deliver precise passes and orchestrate scoring drives, Garoppolo was also prone to inaccuracy and costly turnovers. With the exception of the 2022 campaign, he averaged a turnover percentage of 3.04 percent, along with making extremely indecisive throws during certain instances. His struggles with deep throws and occasional lapses in judgment have left fans and analysts questioning his reliability as the team's long-term solution at quarterback.

A significant factor contributing to the perception of Garoppolo as overrated and additionally inconsistent has been his inability to stay healthy for a full season. Since joining the 49ers, Garoppolo has been plagued by various injuries, including shoulder, knee, and ankle ailments, which have sidelined him for significant stretches of time. The lack of continuity resulting from his frequent absences has disrupted the team's offensive rhythm and hindered his development within the system, raising doubts about his durability and long-term viability as the team's starting quarterback. As a matter of fact, he was sidelined for more than thirty games due to injuries throughout his six-season tenure with the 49ers.

But that brings up another question: How did he seem like an above-average quarterback with the 49ers? Well, part of it had to do with the system they ran.

A prominent aspect of the discussion surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo's performance is the perceived dependency on Kyle Shanahan's offensive system. Shanahan's scheme is renowned for its emphasis on play-action passes, misdirection, and creating favorable matchups for the quarterback. While Garoppolo has thrived within the system at times, critics argue that his success is largely a byproduct of the scheme rather than his individual talent. The question arises: would Garoppolo be as effective in a different offensive system?

Absolutely not, even though the Las Vegas Raiders possessed a solid supporting cast, including what could be considered a top ten offensive line featuring players like Greg Van Roten, Andre James, and Kolton Miller. Furthermore, with the addition of talents like Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Jakobi Meyer, it seemed like their team had the potential to be on the edge of making the playoffs. However, this scenario didn't materialize as expected, especially with the Eastern Illinois Alumni leading the helm, having a lackluster PFF grade of 65.0 and leading the league in interceptions with nine after six weeks.

One of the hallmarks of Shanahan's scheme is its versatility and adaptability. The offense features a diverse array of formations, personnel groupings, and route combinations designed to keep defenses guessing and off-balance. By incorporating elements of both traditional and modern offensive concepts, Shanahan's system challenges opposing defenses to defend the entire field and account for multiple threats on any given play.

Central to the success of the 49ers' offense is the running game, which serves as the foundation for their play-action passing attack. With a stable of talented running backs and a dominant offensive line, the 49ers employ a zone-blocking scheme that emphasizes quickness, agility, and precision. By establishing a potent ground game, Shanahan sets up his quarterbacks for success by creating favorable passing situations off play-action and keeping defenses honest with the threat of the run.

In addition to its ground-and-pound mentality, Shanahan's offense features a diverse passing game that capitalizes on the strengths of the team's skill position players. Receivers are frequently utilized in motion and on crossing routes to create confusion among defenders and generate open throwing lanes for the quarterback. Tight ends play a significant role in the passing game, serving as reliable targets over the middle of the field and in the red zone.

Quarterback play in Shanahan's offense is characterized by efficiency, timing, and decision-making. While the scheme does not require quarterbacks to possess elite arm strength or athleticism, it places a premium on accuracy, anticipation, and the ability to process information quickly. Quarterbacks are tasked with executing a variety of play-action passes, bootlegs, and designed rollouts to move the pocket and keep defenses guessing. Despite his success within the confines of Kyle Shanahan's offense, Jimmy Garoppolo was been criticized for his limitations as a playmaker outside of the structured scheme. When faced with pressure or when plays break down, Garoppolo struggled to improvise and extend plays, often resorting to conservative decisions or risking turnovers. His inability to consistently create off-script raised concerns about his ability to thrive in high-pressure situations and elevate his game when needed most.

Ultimately, I am not one to speak about the future of Jimmy G--whether he evolves as a quarterback or remains a Las Vegas Raider even after his recent suspension.However, I can speak about his tenure with the 49ers, and it was...quite unpleasant primarily due to (a) his limitations as a playmaker, (b) his dependence on the system, (c) his inconsistent performances, and (d) his injury-plagued history.

32 views0 comments


bottom of page