There have been no shortage of “hot takes” and interpretations of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s first full season as a starter.
From 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk’s perspective however, the only way he views Jimmy G’s 2019 season is in a positive light. Talking to 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, Juszczyk lightly addressed how it’s felt to see people chide his quarterback.
“I just think he’s going to continue to grow,” Juszczyk said. “I feel like I’ve been his bodyguard this offseason, sticking up for him to everybody who’s trying to take shots. I think there’s no doubt that he’s just going to continue to improve. It’s his first season as a full-year starter, and he led us to a Super Bowl, had some incredible games.”
While some of the comments directed towards Garoppolo’s performances have merit, Juszczyk makes the similarly valid point that the 49ers had their best season in years when Jimmy G was able to start from the opening game to the last.
That Saints Game
Juszczyk followed up his initial opinion with an example, bringing up what was arguably the NFL’s game of the year in 2019.
“I always point out the New Orleans game where we clearly relied on him to help score 48 points in that game and win a tough one on the road in a hostile environment.”
Garoppolo dueled with New Orleans Saints QB and future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees, but the 49ers were able to pull out the win in the final moments after Garoppolo found tight end George Kittle with a short pass to set up a game-winning field goal.
The game was the prime example of what Jimmy G can do on his day, throwing for four touchdowns and 349 yards. Juszczyk looks back at the game as a good case for Garoppolo, but also reiterates how he thinks his QB can grow.
“It takes a while to really master Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme, especially from the quarterback position,” Juszczyk continued. “He has more on his plate than anybody. So, the more time that he gets to digest that, get more repetitions with it, he’s just going to continue to get better.”
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Garoppolo vs. Brady
Before this past season’s run to the Super Bowl, the conversation around Jimmy G revolved around whether he could play a full season and if he had what it takes to be an elite QB in the NFL.
Ever since joining the New England Patriots in 2014 as the 62nd overall pick of that year’s draft, Garoppolo has been compared and measured next to legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Even as he’s established his own identity in Santa Clara, California, the two seemed to be linked, as 49ers general manager John Lynch and San Francisco recently confirmed that they considered signing Brady in free agency.
“When you’re talking about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with Tom Brady, of course, you’re going to have some internal discussion. And then you hear rumors that hey, he’d like to come home, that kind of thing… So of course [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I have discussions.
But within a day or two, Kyle and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know what, we really like what we have in Jimmy.’ We love everything that he brings and we really believe it’s a long-term answer. I would tell you we’re more convinced than ever about who our quarterback is in Jimmy Garoppolo.”
However, as Lynch says above, the 49ers did not want to ruin the momentum that they’ve accrued with Jimmy G and gave him a vote of confidence ahead of the 2020 season.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.