So when Jimmy Garoppolo was confronted with 49ers-like ineptitude on Sunday in Houston, he responded with Patriots-like poise.
In the first quarter, the 49ers dropped two of his passes, committed three penalties and it appeared as if Garoppolo himself was going to get dragged down into San Francisco’s season-long morass. After a miscommunication with wide receiver Trent Taylor, he threw an interception right to Texan cornerback Kareem Jackson.
The 49ers undoubtedly had that sinking feeling that things were going to suck again, like they had all year.
“It could have been easy to tank,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk told NBCS Bay Area. “Jimmy was right over there, it never phased him. He was telling us to keep it up and eventually we were going to punch it through.”
Garoppolo was essentially saying, “Look, let me bring you a little of that Tom Brady swag, and everything will be fine.”
It was a critical juncture. Which side would win out? Would Garoppolo get sucked into the three-year 49ers’ vortex of hopeless disappointments, or could Garoppolo instill the Brady/Patriot mindset at least for one game?
After the bum start, Garoppolo steered the 49ers to five straight scoring drives (three field goals and two touchdowns). The 23 straight points fueled the team’s 26-16 win. Garoppolo also did it while being knocked around by the Texans.
But as Juszczyk said, Garoppolo was never phased by the poor start.
“He’s been everything; he’s already a leader on this team,” Juszczyk said. “He runs this offense with confidence. Guys really believe in him.”
After throwing for 334 yards on 20 of 33 passing with a touchdown and the pick, his teammates seemed to be
believers that they could be more Patriot like than what they have been.
In the process, Garoppolo proved he could take a lick. That’s something no one knew about Garoppolo. He hadn’t been in a game when he got pummeled and then had to respond. He more than passed the test on Sunday.
Texan Jadaveon Clowney sacked him once and hit him three other times. Linebacker Benadrick McKinney blitz up the middle, lowered his helmet and drove his head right beneath Garoppolo’s chin (McKinney drew a personal foul penalty).
At one point, tight end Garrett Celek noticed blood leaking from Garoppolo’s mouth. After the game he called Garoppolo the “toughest guy ever” before quickly noting the toughness of previous starter C.J. Beathard.
Garoppolo’s fourth straight win to start his NFL career was probably the hardest on him physically, and by the way only Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Trevor Siemian are the only quarterbacks who have done that.
Garoppolo’s insertion into the starting line-up has also coincided with a defensive revival. The 49ers held the Bears to just one offensive touchdown last week, and 16 points this week. They’ve benefitting from a Garoppolo-led offense that’s controlling the clock.
For the third straight game, his teammates left the locker room admiring their new quarterback and reveling in a win, their third in four games.
“The man has come in (and) in about month’s time and changed things around and got us going,” wide receiver Marquise Goodwin said. “I commend him for that.”