SANTA CLARA — With the 49ers falling to the Minnesota Vikings, 24-16, last Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo’s starting record is now blemished. It had to happen at some point.
The Vikings sacked Garoppolo three times, but he was consistently forced out of the pocket. All three of his interceptions came in the face of pressure.
Minnesota’s bravado manifested in a postgame remark from defensive lineman Danielle Hunter, who sacked Garoppolo once, had eight pressures, and added four tackles.
“As the game goes on, you have to bring the pressure on him,” Hunter said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “You see that he’s starting to get scared.”
Garoppolo was asked Wednesday what he thought about Hunter’s comment.
“I had never heard that before, but it’s the way he thinks I guess,” Garoppolo said. “Pressure is always a good thing in a quarterback’s eyes. It opens up windows— they have less guys in coverage. It’s kind of pick your poison I guess.”
Last year, according to Football Outsiders, Garoppolo was the best quarterback under pressure in limited snaps. His DVOA under pressure was plus-12.8 percent. DVOA is an analytical tool that grades quarterbacks on yardage and situation with the rest of the league. Garoppolo posted a 82.8 quarterback rating under pressure last year.
The 2018 season, his first as a full-time starter, got off to a rough start. In addition to his three interceptions, he completed just 15 of 33 passes. But he faced one of the best, most complete defenses with two first-team All-Pros in the Vikings secondary, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, at a place they lost just once in 2017.
Smith disagreed with Hunter’s stance.
“I didn’t see (Garoppolo) getting frustrated,” Smith said via Maiocco. “He’s a very good player, and he has had a lot of success.”