Eye-Popping Stat Shows Jimmy Garoppolo Has Been Dominant in the Clutch

Jimmy Garoppolo

Getty Jimmy Garoppolo attempts to throw the football versus the Vikings on Sunday, November 28.

The mistake-prone version of Jimmy Garoppolo has gone missing these last five games for the San Francisco 49ers.

In the first five starts of 2021: Four interceptions and two fumbles committed. But in the last five starts for Jimmy G? Just two interceptions and not one fumble lost.

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There’s been a more efficient 49ers quarterback behind center. Speaking of the “E” word, Garoppolo has this eye-widening stat that puts him behind one Super Bowl winner in one category and a Most Valuable Player contender in the other. And this stat involves the most crucial and pulsating downs any quarterback and offense faces. Here’s a look:

Garoppolo has High Efficiency Rating

Third and fourth down is where Garoppolo has been at the top of his game during the 49ers’ 4-1 turnaround.

Via David Lombardi of The Athletic on Thursday, December 2, Garoppolo has been the second most efficient QB at Expected Points Added (EPA)/drop back efficiency and, since 2017, only trails the winning quarterback of the same Super Bowl Jimmy G played in back in January 2020:

Lombardi, who covers the 49ers for The Athletic, adds this similar stat: This season Garoppolo finds himself at second as well in third/fourth down efficiency. Ahead of him? One NFC West rival and MVP contender:

There was a period when Garoppolo’s efficiency metrics were below average, as noted by Lombardi in his Thursday morning article. Lombardi also included Garoppolo’s stretches from 2017 and compared it to his 2021 production:

And when Garoppolo’s production in this category improves, the entire offense improves.

49ers as a Team on Crucial Downs

The third down team percentage for the 49ers through 11 games? It stands at 38.3%.

That number may place them at No. 20 overall in that category, but among NFC teams the 49ers have a top 10 third down offense — rated at No. 9 overall.

But here’s another notable stat involving the 49ers during the crucial downs with Garoppolo behind center: They’re 4-1 overall when they make five or more third down conversions. Examples are:

  • Week 2: The 49ers made six of 14 third downs in the 17-11 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Week 3: S.F. converted seven third downs, but fell in the final seconds to the Green Bay Packers 30-28.
  • Week 9: The 49ers were more aggressive on these downs — hitting the first down marker or beyond it at a season-high eight times in the 31-10 romp of the Los Angeles Rams.
  • Week 10: Garoppolo and company made six first downs during third down scenarios in the 30-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Week 11: In the Sunday, November 28 home win over the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers crossed the first down line five times during third down.

Garoppolo, during this sequence, has thrown four of his touchdown passes when the 49ers take the third or fourth down gamble. This includes Garoppolo’s connection with George Kittle on fourth against Jacksonville:

The third down strike to Brandon Aiyuk in that same contest:

And against the Rams, Jimmy G and Kittle connected in the end zone on 3rd and 6.

Plus, this dagger to the Rams on 4th and 5.

Garoppolo has found a way to lessen the mistakes and increase the production. And he’s doing it by becoming clutch when the down marker shows a “3” or “4.”

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