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Murph: What to make of Jimmy Garoppolo’s uneven start


© Orlando Ramirez | 2019 Oct 13


The 49ers are 5-0, so it seems like a perfect time to start complaining.

Believe it or not, we heard some on the ‘Murph and Mac’ show as early as the Monday morning after the win in Los Angeles. Not a massive onslaught, mind you. More like the 4.5 temblor that woke people up on Monday night. A little shake.

Call it the ‘Jimmy G Jitters’.

There are, apparently, 49ers fans who think Jimmy Garoppolo’s five interceptions in five games — and a few near-misses, too — are cause for concern. This, even after George Kittle and Joe Staley were caught on camera praising Jimmy G’s “butt chin” in Canadian accents.

Let’s see if the Freaked-Out Faithful are on to something, or are pressing a 49ers red ‘panic’ button a little too frantically.

While Garoppolo’s five interceptions have him tied for 9th in the NFL, he is behind established names like Matt Ryan (7), Jared Goff (7), Dak Prescott (6) and Phil Rivers (6).

When building a case for something, it’s always good to point at other figures and say: “See! That guy’s even worse!” It’s the old playground trick: “But, Mom …. Jason said something even worse than I did!!”

Perhaps the FOF (Freaked-Out Faithful) are more concerned with Jimmy G’s interception percentage. Garoppolo’s 3.4% interception rate is sixth-highest in the NFL. That’s a tad more alarming, especially because the only QBs with a higher interception percentage are some dudes who are either seriously struggling, or are rookies: Baker Mayfield (5.6%), Josh Rosen (4.6%), Jameis Winston (4.5%), Josh Allen (4.3%), Daniel Jones (4.3%).

So when it comes to frequency, Jimmy G has some rough-hewn company.

One day, perhaps he can move into the expensive neighborhood, next to the low-interception real estate of a Tom Brady (1.3%) or Aaron Rodgers (0.9%).

There are mitigating factors we must remember. When Garoppolo trots on to the bland corporate turf in suburban Maryland to take on the Washington Redskins Sunday, he will be making his 16th start in the NFL, and only his 14th as a 49er with Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That matters.

Garoppolo is unafraid to throw into coverage, it appears. Maybe that decision-making will become sharper and more refined by the time he enters his third, fourth and fifth full seasons starting. After all, Handsome Jimmy G only turns 28 on Nov. 2, sports fans.

The FOF think of the end-zone interception against the Rams and his near-INT into the arms of Chris Littleton later in the game and they pull blankets over their eyes.

On the other hand, former NFL linebacker Kirk Morrison came on our show and gave Jimmy G a vote of confidence, saying “his presence alone” makes the team better. Apparently, Morrison has been hypnotized by Jimmy G’s chin, also.

The FOF think of a January moment with the 49ers down, 17-13, 1:45 to play and the ball on the 49ers’ own 25-yard line, a Superdome crowd roaring in the NFC Championship. The FOF don’t think Jimmy G could lead that TD drive.

The anti-FOF look at the film and see Jimmy G deftly using footwork in tight pockets, standing in long enough to make third-down throws and take hits, and use tricks like his ‘sidearm sling’ to thread through sticky situations. And how about that zone-read keeper last week on third down?

I won’t use the Jock Blog as a bully pulpit, kids. I won’t mock the FOF. I will merely say, after a 5-0 start, that Jimmy G deserves a whole lot more praise than scorn. And if I need to, I’ll break out Joe Montana’s 1981 statistics — 63.7 completion percentage (Jimmy G is at 69.9); 7.3 yards per attempt (Jimmy G is at 8.0); a QB rating of 83.4 (Jimmy G is at 95.2).

Now there’s some high-end company, in the luxury lounge.

Let’s see if Jimmy G can stay there, and even get better.

 

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