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Murph: I want to give Jimmy Garoppolo a hug

© Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

I feel like Jimmy G needs a hug.

Too bad we can’t hug in these pandemic times.

Maybe an air hug? Or would the lack of connection remind everyone of a certain Jimmy Garoppolo incompletion?


See what I mean?

The latest indignation suffered by Garoppolo came at the hands of the Madden 21 ratings made public this week. Not only was Jimmy G left off the list of top 10 NFL QBs, he didn’t even crack his own roster’s top 10 ratings.

Generally, you’d like your QB to be one of the top 10 players on your team.

Nope, say the Madden raters. George Kittle (98), Trent Williams (92), Richard Sherman (92), Nick Bosa (89), Fred Warner (87), Arik Armstead (86), Kyle Juszczyk (86), Dee Ford (85), Mike McGlinchey (85) and Raheem Mostert (84) all ranked ahead of the Handsome One.

I don’t think anyone has a problem accepting the likes of Kittle, Bosa and newcomer Trent Williams. But McGlinchey? Armstead? Even the relatively unproven Mostert? Nice players, and key cogs. Again, in an ideal world, like back when the 49ers won Super Bowls with Joe Montana and Steve Young, you’d like your QB to crack your own roster’s top 10.

With training camp set to open in two weeks — COVID-19 willing and the creeks don’t rise — the Madden ratings are just the latest insult to Garoppolo’s offseason.

First, he had to handle the fallout of the blown 20-10 fourth quarter lead.

Then, he had to handle months worth of chatter on his overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders on the post route.

Then, he had to endure endless speculation that Tom Brady was coming for his job, his own employers even admitting that they discussed the idea at length.

Then, some pundits argued the 49ers should draft a QB like Jordan Love out of Utah State to prepare for the post-Garoppolo world.

Next, speculation that Aaron Rodgers could be a free agent in 2021 had some Twitter accounts buzzing that he would return to his native Golden State and take Garoppolo’s gig.

Finally, the video game guys came for him.

Jimmy G’s offseason was so rough, he even took a hit virtually.

That’s why I feel like he needs that air hug.

When the Madden raters listed 10 QBs ahead of him, it was hard to argue with many of them. Anyone would agree that the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers should rank ahead of him.

And yet — Jimmy G beat Wilson in Seattle. Jimmy G beat Brees in New Orleans. Jimmy G beat Rodgers twice, including the NFC Championship. Jimmy G came within a kick of beating Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. And as for Mahomes? Well . . . ouch.

So here’s the air hug for Jimmy G: He’s 19-5 as the 49ers starting QB. He’s 2-1 in the playoffs as a 49ers QB. He’s 28 years old. He’s only started one full season as 49ers QB.

And he’s handled all the slings and arrows of this offseason with characteristically understated Jimmy G style. No need to put out statements. No need to have his handlers try to spin anything. No need for social media pushback.

In fact, the only time we’ve heard from him was to see him organizing workouts at San Jose State and in Nashville. Just Jimmy G, blue-collar son of an electrician. He knows the deal. He’s well-paid to take these insults. Perhaps it’s most instructive that players like Kittle and Ford and Juszyzck have, in their offseason interviews, passionately rushed to his defense.

I went back and watched highlights of all his completions from Super Bowl 54. And yes, while Kyle Shanahan’s masterful play-action calls provided a fair chunk of Garoppolo’s success, he also threw some clutch passes — particularly a 3rd-and-8 dart to Kendrick Bourne to set up the 20-10 lead. Troy Aikman gushed in the FOX booth: “Garoppolo has been on fire.”

Perhaps Jimmy G, alone in the pandemic in his South Bay home, just plays that back on loop, over and over. I hope so. The guy needs a pick-me-up. Here’s to the Madden 22 ratings: Watch out, Patrick, Lamar and Russ. Right?


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