The San Francisco 49ers‘ front office evaluated quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after the 2019 season and found him to be the guy for the job.
However, that hasn’t stopped the world of the NFL from supplying their opinions on the 28-year-old quarterback as both fans of San Francisco and elsewhere debate how important Garoppolo was to the 49ers’ 13-3 regular season and ensuing trip to Super Bowl LIV.
ESPN took to ranking the NFL’s best quarterbacks, asking 50 executives, coaches, players and scouts from around the NFL to name their top-10 quarterbacks.
While it’s unsurprising to see members of the league’s front offices vote Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as the second-best quarterback behind Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, it’s definitely more surprising to see Arizona Cardinal Kyler Murray earn more top-10 votes than Jimmy G.
Murray earned 5 top-10 votes to Garoppolo’s 2 votes, and while it may just be the opinions, it makes one wonder why more members of the NFL’s front offices are convinced that Murray is already better than Jimmy G after just one season.
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Comparing Murray and Garoppolo
Before breaking down the stats, the obvious preface is that Garoppolo and Murray are very different quarterbacks. Garoppolo is closer to the traditional idea of a pocket passer, while Murray’s athleticism makes him a constant danger both in the pocket and outside of it.
In 2019, Murray threw for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first NFL campaign, which is certainly impressive, but trails Garoppolo’s 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns in the same season.
However, a valid equalizer for Murray is his running ability, which saw him total 544 rushing yards and four additional touchdowns, leaving him with less total touchdowns, but over nearly 4,300 total yards from scrimmage.
Another area to consider is turnovers, which Murray also eclipses Garoppolo in. Garoppolo threw one more interception than Murray, 13, and also fumbled twice as often, losing control of the pigskin 10 times to Murray’s 5 times. Five of Jimmy G’s fumbles were recovered by the opposition, while the former Oklahoma Sooner only turned it over twice.
But while the pair best each other in various stats, one thing working in Garoppolo’s favor is clutchness. His four game-winning drives were a crucial reason why the 49ers were able to secure a bye in the playoffs, and while Murray showed presence in big moments, he only led two game-winning drives in 2019.
Keeping Executive Comments in Perspective
It’s totally fair for 49ers fans to be annoyed or upset with how Garoppolo is viewed on the national level. From the perspective in Santa Clara, California, Jimmy G has only played one full season and lived up to billing by pulling out several close wins and doing what was asked of him.
On top of that, it’s reasonable to think that Garoppolo can still get better after just one full season. One coach who commented in the ESPN article mentions this.
“He’s a pure pocket guy with a great release and his teammates love him. He’s probably got a ceiling, but I think he’s a really good quarterback in this league.”
While their is reason for optimism, the ensuing conversation after the 2019 season has proven one thing: Jimmy G has something to prove in 2020.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.