It’s no secret that the San Francisco 49ers and its organization is 100 percent behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
In his first full season in the NFL, Garoppolo led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, but his 3,978-passing-yard season that featured 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions didn’t convince his doubters that he’s the guy that will hoist a Lombardi Trophy in San Francisco’s name.
While the offseason conversation has teetered between Jimmy G not being enough or far over that bar, per Bay Area News Group’s Cam Imman, one 49er has no questions over whether Garoppolo is the guy or not: starting offensive guard Laken Tomlinson.
“How dare you doubt my dude like that?” Tomlinson said with a smile in a press conference Monday. “Are you crazy? That’s my dog right there. Jimmy is a leader to all of us out there. It’s all nonsense, honestly.”
While it may be expected and somewhat in jest, it’s always encouraging for San Francisco to see one of their own defend a teammate.
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Tomlinson’s Time with the 49ers
Tomlinson may not have gotten the recognition over the 49ers’ run to Super Bowl LIV like the positional stars that made up San Francisco’s roster, but the guard was a rock-solid piece of one of the 49ers’ best teams in recent memory.
In fact, Tomlinson didn’t just put in the dirty work during the 2019 campaign, the former Detroit Lion has been a key cog ever since leaving Michigan for California back in 2017, starting 50 out of a possible 51 games since becoming a 49er.
The 2015 NFL Draft first-rounder has appeared like a steal ever since San Francisco sent a fifth-round pick to the Lions for the former Duke Blue Devil, proving to be a solid protector for Jimmy G, but also an astute run-blocker, which is imperative for offensive schemes like the ones that head coach Kyle Shanahan draws up for San Francisco.
Kyle Juszczyk’s Comments
Tomlinson isn’t the first 49er to defend Garoppolo from criticism this offseason with a bit of humor, and he probably won’t be the last for the remainder of 2020.
One other San Francisco starter, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, stepped up to the proverbial plate back in the spring, saying to Baltimore station 105.7 The Fan that he’s happy to be Jimmy G’s “bodyguard.”
“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.”
“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.”
In some ways, the criticism is just a natural part of the position. No group in the NFL faces more scrutiny than quarterbacks, and Garoppolo being a QB that made a Super Bowl but fell short of winning it was going to inherently bring on criticism.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the NFL 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.