© Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — The 49ers wasted many a chance on Sunday. And they still should have won their sixth Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo had his opportunity, on that patented deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders that he’s so often connected on this season. When it mattered most, he missed, and it wasn’t particularly close.
In the fourth quarter, Garoppolo was 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception. Before that, he was 17-of-20 with 179 yards, 1 TD and one early interception. He collapsed, as defined by the miss that will haunt this game; his overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders for a sure touchdown.
Jimmy Garoppolo had Emmanuel Sanders open behind the defense to give the #49ers the lead with just over a minute to go. Missed the throw, and lost the game. Average QB at best. pic.twitter.com/7jDjntFlqY
— Alex Ohári 🇭🇺🔴⚪️ (@FutureCanes) February 3, 2020
It doesn’t matter if that’s an easy throw. He needs to make it. It’s the Super Bowl. If you want to win the Super Bowl, your quarterback makes that throw. And Garoppolo didn’t.
When you have a disastrous ending such as this, in a game you led by 10 points with 10 minutes remaining, and you’re the quarterback, you take responsibility for it. Garoppolo did not.
It’s his style to talk about the team, win or lose. He almost never uses the “I” descriptor, and the philosophy makes sense. It’s a team game: you win as a team, you lose as a team. Apologies if you’re currently vomiting over that cliche. It’s Garoppolo’s New England-learned panache that results in those cliches being a constant in his press conferences.
There’s no reason to think Garoppolo doesn’t adhere to that philosophy. By all accounts, the 49ers have bought into that group-oriented philosophy as well as the philosophy that they should not change their approach no matter the circumstance.
This is the exception.
When asked about what went wrong, Garoppolo rarely used the term “I.”
On missing Emmanuel Sanders:
“We missed some shots tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Some plays that we usually make. That was a tough one out there.”
On why it was difficult to get a drive going after Tarvarius Moore’s interception:
“That was an opportunity for us, and we just didn’t take advantage of it,” Garoppolo said. “Just gotta give the Chiefs some credit, they’re a good team.”
On if he feels disappointed in himself or feels he let the team down:
“I think you have to give the Chiefs’ credit,” Garoppolo said. “Like I said before, they are a good football team. It just wasn’t our night.”
Sure, the Chiefs played solid defense. But Garoppolo missed throws, and he missed the throw that will define this loss (to his credit, he was robbed of a perfect deep throw at the end of the first half to George Kittle).
In such a moment, when you, Jimmy Garoppolo, complete three passes in the fourth quarter, when you, Jimmy Garoppolo, overthrow a sure touchdown by three yards, it’s you, Jimmy Garoppolo who needs to take the credit.
“I missed Emmanuel. I need to make that throw.”
That’s all Garoppolo needed to say. To acknowledge that yes, we made mistakes as a team, but I made a mistake that would’ve won us a Super Bowl. I’m aware of it. It’s not on the team. I, me, this person in front of you, was the sole cause of that particular mistake.
Maybe this is reading too much into Garoppolo’s vernacular and that when he says “we,” he really means I. Maybe he addressed the team and said the loss was on him (which wouldn’t entirely be true).
But Garoppolo is the face of the franchise and was faced three times with questions about an egregious mistake he made. He said “we” each time he described that failure. That was his one chance to take ownership of a monumental error, and instead, he deferred.