What’s the Jock Blog record for consecutive columns about Jimmy G?
‘Cause we’re about to break that mark.
Here’s the thing: Outside the locker room, he’s as divisive a force as this nation has seen since the state of Florida brought us the phrase “hanging chads”.
(Hang on while I separate Mina Kimes and Jeff Garcia inside the octagon. I’ll be right back.)
OK, where was I? Oh, right. Jimmy G. Where else would I be?
And the crazy thing is: the 49ers will beat the Rams in the NFC Championship Sunday in large part, because — get this! — *inside the locker room*, Jimmy G is as unifying a force as Super Glue, or free ice cream or three-day weekends.
Inside that 49ers locker room, there are no Twitter polls about whether Jimmy G should move, or get out of the way. Inside that 49ers locker room, there is no “Jimmy Is The Limiting Factor” faction, as we’ve seen quite vividly in a three-week tour from Los Angeles in Week 18 to Dallas in the wild-card round to snowy Lambeau Field in the divisional round.
There is only the “What’s Wrong With You If You Don’t Love the Winner That Is Jimmy G?” faction, and it appears to be polling at about 100 percent.
I confess, I am baffled by the anti-Garoppolo movement at this point. Every single anti-Jimmy argument — those floaters to the sidelines should have been picked! That red zone INT in Green Bay was an affront to humanity! His playoff passing numbers are from the Stone Age! — carry as much weight as a cardboard box left out in the rain.
The 49ers are in the NFC Championship Game.
Nothing. Else. Matters.
What’s the most important play in Jimmy G’s 49ers career?
The next play, right kids?
When’s the next play in Jimmy G’s 49ers career?
In the NFC Championship Game.
And I’m not just a high school student section chanting “Scorrrrrreboarrrd” at the Jimmy haters. I’m truly flummoxed that the Jimmy haters can’t see the quite obvious esprit de corps this 49ers team has, and how its esprit de corps is fueled, quite obviously, from a bullet-strewn, blue-collar QB with a million dollar smile and a huddle presence under pressure that gives off whiffs of — yeah, I’ll say it — a baby, baby, baby brother of the guy Peacock is doing a six-part documentary on.
You want analytics, not Jock Blogg-y, particle nonsense? In the freezing cold, Garoppolo’s first quarter passes dropped by George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings were some of his finest throws of the year. And in the fourth quarter, when Aaron Rodgers could not, Jim Garoppolo could.
A 12-yarder to Kittle over the middle and a 14-yarder to the irrepressible and unstoppable Deebo Samuel covered 26 of the 44 yards the 49ers needed to set up Robbie Gould’s slow pulse and powerful foot. Two passes. Two completions. Critical reads, critical execution.
If those passes were part of the school project, Jimmy gets an ‘A’.
And at the heart of it all is the dude himself.
Since March, when the 49ers made the trade and sent Jimmy the bad script for that new movie, “We’re Just Not That Into You”, Garoppolo’s response has transcended professionalism, and created an almost new verb: “To Jimmy G” — to handle an awkward and hurtful situation with such grace and class, you actually lift those around you to a higher place.
Example: “Dude, I borrowed my buddy’s car without asking, and drove it in a telephone pole … but he totally Jimmy G’ed it and is letting me pay him back without a lawsuit.”
Or something like that.
To “Jimmy G” it is not a weak thing. To “Jimmy G” it is not to just lay down and accept the fact that your successor is waiting to take your job without a fight on your part. On our very radio show early in the season, when Trey Lance ran in a TD and Jimmy G gave him a hug, a FOX analyst said, “those aren’t easy hugs to give.” We asked Jimmy G about that, and he said: “He’s not wrong.”
That’s about as explosive as Garoppolo ever got, as I was just pointing out to my good friend Antonio Brown.
And that very quality of Garoppolo’s has played a large role in lifting the team to where they are Sunday. He has not let the awkward dynamic fester. He has only let the team flower. That’s the most important net net. Not how you feel about his QBR. Not how you feel about Kyle Shanahan running the ball. Not how you feel about a would-be pick.
Yes, the 49ers are in the NFC Championship because their defensive line is starring in a movie called “Nine Angry Men”. Yes, the 49ers are in the NFC Championship because Deebo Samuel is a supernova. Yes, the 49ers are in the NFC Championship because they are mentally tougher than their circumstances.
But there’s also in the NFC Championship because they love their quarterback, and he rewards that love with relentless optimism, that ineffable thing called charisma and better throws than you want to give him credit for.
What they say about Jimmy outside the locker room matters not.
What they say about Jimmy inside the locker room, and its tangible result on the field?
Nothing else matters.