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Murph: Why the early season sluggishness is good for Garoppolo, Shanahan

© Kelley L Cox | 2017 Dec 24

Spent a little time noodling around the first two weeks of NFL statistics, and it turns out Jimmy G has turned into “Jimmy, gee — you’re off to slow start.”

I know, I know. Two weeks. Small sample size. 1/8 of the season. Don’t @ me.

Sometimes, a Jock Blog is just a Jock Blog.

But if gets you through six minutes of your crowded BART ride, then I feel I’ve done my job in providing free entertainment and distraction.

And the plain facts are, two weeks into the season, Jimmy Garoppolo is a bottom-third quarterback in the league, statistically.

The words seem blasphemous to type. “Bottom-third”? Jimmy G? The most handsome and dashing of QBs? The man whose $137 million smile was so bright, you had to wear shades?

Nobody fanboy crushed harder on Jimmy G than myself and Paulie Mac in the mornings. We watched the last five games of 2017 and saw a quick release, smart decisions ahoy, and deadly accurate balls into the waiting mitts of a streaking Marquise Goodwin. What was not to love?

The 49ers, wandering a post-2012-Kaepernick landscape, had found their man for the next decade.

And then, Minnesota. Three interceptions, including one in the final minutes that prevented any late game heroics.

And then, Detroit at Levi’s Stadium. Six sacks taken, and a can’t-hardly-look interception that likely would have lost the game — except for the most fortunate flag in recent 49ers history.

Two games. Two duds. And lots of bummer stats to back it up: 26th in the NFL’s traditional QB rating (77.4). Nine sacks, with only Russell (The Pinata) Wilson and Tyrod (I Play for the Browns) Taylor taking more. And for you advanced analytics types, Football Outsiders used their algebra and calculus to figure out that, through two weeks, Jimmy G is “Jimmy, gee — you are 31st in QB ranking by our metrics.” That’s behind the likes of Sam Darnold, Ryan Tannehill and, yes, Blaine Gabbert.

So what’s a 49er Faithful to do?

In the words of the guy the 49ers could have drafted in 2005: R-E-L-A-X.

Somehow, I am going to spin positive on this one. This early sluggishness is good for Jimmy G and coach Kyle Shanahan. Let the hype die down. Let the defenses adjust. Let the skeptics realize that, without Goodwin in the first two games, and without what should have been an explosive Jerick McKinnon, Jimmy G is wandering new territory, and surely growing along the way.

In Minnesota, his gunslinger ways led to turnovers. Noted. Against the Lions, his hesitancy to throw it away led to sacks. Noted.

Also noted, and frequently forgotten: Garoppolo just finished his 9th NFL start.

He’s only seven starts ahead of Darnold.

We had former 49ers Super Bowl champ tight end Russ Francis on the show Wednesday, and he reminded us of the Bill Walsh days, and the growth from 1979 to 1980 to the breakthrough season of 1981. Jimmy G and Shanahan have played seven games together.

Back to that Aaron Rodgers quote.

A daunting task awaits at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, and then a road tilt against wily Phil Rivers and a decent Chargers team. If the 49ers start 1-3, you may see another Jock Blog. But you won’t see any Jock Blogs ripping Jimmy G just yet. The fanboy crush lives on. Let’s watch this dude play. If memory serves from last year, it can be rather enjoyable at times.


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