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Murph: The moment the Jimmy G panic set in — to everyone except Jimmy G

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine how good the 49ers could be if they had a decent quarterback.

They might even win the West! Or win a playoff game! Or, dream big: win the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl!

Instead, they’ll have to do with poor ol’ Jimmy Garoppolo.

At least maybe they’ll keep getting high draft picks with Jimmy G under center.

Yes, yes, I’m working a bit. It’s what we do in morning radio.

I don’t know the exact moment in time Jimmy Garoppolo did something to cause a segment of America’s sporting pundits to doubt his abilities, but it’s likely doctors trace it to Aug. 14, 2019.

That was the day Jimmy G lit up the internet by throwing five consecutive interceptions in practice.

It was the Jimmy G “Pick-nic.” It was the “W-INT-er of Jimmy G’s discontent.” It was, as Warriors voice Tim Roye might say, “An Interception Sensation!” and, given that it was summertime and the Giants stunk and the 49ers were coming off a 4-12 season and Kevin Durant was a Brooklyn Net — lots of us got grumpy and wondered if Jimmy G, coming off an ACL tear for a team with five consecutive losing seasons, was going to be The Guy.

I confess. I looked up on Spotrac to see the particulars of Jimmy G’s contract, and even said on KNBR the next day that the 49ers could get out of his deal on April 1, 2020, with no financial impact.

Don’t yell at me! I was just doing research!

They still can get out of the contract, right?

That’s a joke, son.

Maybe it’s because Jimmy G is considered movie-star handsome that some were ready to turn on him. Guys are who are too good-looking get away with stuff, right? Maybe it’s because he had not won anything yet. Maybe it’s because, well, he threw five consecutive interceptions and that’s not a positive.

But ever since then, as the 49ers peeled off an 8-0 start, the belief was that it was the 49ers defense and run game doing all the dirty work. He didn’t have to crest 200 yards passing in wins at Tampa Bay, or vs. Cleveland or at Washington or vs. Carolina. He did throw a game-winning TD pass to Dante Pettis with 1:20 left to beat the Steelers, but the Jimmy G Haterz Club pointed out that he only had to drive 24 yards after the vaunted 49ers defense forced and recovered a fumble.

The 49ers defense was playing at a historic level. Nick Bosa was turning into a star. The attention flowed that way, and a narrative began to emerge: Jim Garoppolo is a more Mediterranean-looking Alex Smith. What was Italian for “game manager,” anyway?

And once perceptions float out, perceptions become reality. Or, as Andre Agassi told us in those vintage 1990 ads: Image is everything.

By the time Garoppolo threw four TDs and zero INTs in the Halloween night win at Arizona, it was too late. The 49ers were perceived as a defensive team and didn’t need Garoppolo to win.

When Kyle Shanahan chose to let Chase McLaughlin try to beat Seattle instead of Garoppolo, Jimmy G lost to Russell Wilson. More fuel for doubters.

By the time he hit Jeff Wilson with a game-winner to beat Atlanta, out-dueled Drew Brees in epic fashion, converted two third-and-16s to beat the Rams late and then went 18-of-22 for 270 with no INTs in Seattle, it didn’t seem to matter.

You can go ahead and re-read that last paragraph.

Yes, Jimmy G was sensational.

The 49ers finished 13-3.

And then the 49ers ran the ball a gazillion times in playoff wins over the Vikings and Packers.

So, here we are.

Garoppolo is 23-5 as a starter. He’s 2-0 in the playoffs. If you want fancy stats like passer rating, Jimmy G’s was 102.0 — good enough for eighth in the NFL, right behind … wait for it … No. 7, Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes has no perception problem. Unless you count the perception that he is the love child of Dan Marino and Mike Vick.

The best part about all of this is, Garoppolo is the most even-keeled dude this side of Klay Thompson. Never have his feathers been ruffled by multiple ESPN analysts saying they don’t trust him, or internet headlines saying, “You can’t trust Jimmy G.” They’re out there. I found them.

Jimmy G only says, with his demeanor, and play, and wins: See you in Miami.

What more do you want out of 49er fan life?


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