With 1:07 remaining in the 4th quarter versus the Seattle Seahawks, Jimmy Garoppolo strapped on his helmet and ran out to the huddle after the teams starting QB, C.J. Beathard, went down with an injury.
It’s 3rd & 5 and Garoppolo breaks the huddle. The offense lines up in a bunch formation with three receivers split out right and WR Trent Taylor to his left in the backfield. Garoppolo motions to TE Garrett Celek to flank out right and then snaps the ball. He stands in the pocket, allowing his receivers to clear their routes, but LT Joe Staley falls to the ground after DE Frank Clark spins around him and the pocket collapses. This is where we see the potential of the 49ers new franchise quarterback.
Instead of panicking, taking the sack, or throwing the ball away, Garoppolo understood the situation he was in. He keeps his eyes downfield, pump fakes the secondary to buy him more time, and scrambles for a four-yard gain. After OL Erik Magnuson is called for a false start, the 49ers are facing a 4th & 6 from Seattle’s 18-yard line. Garoppolo hits WR Aldrick Robinson on the out route for an 8-yard gain. Robinson is tackled immediately and is unable to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Garoppolo hurries the offense to the line and hikes the ball with five seconds remaining. He looks to his right and the timer in his head goes off, he thinks to himself, "the pocket is collapsing and I need to move to keep the play alive". He rolls to his left, plants his feet, squares his shoulders up, and delivers a dime to WR Louis Murphy for a touchdown as time expires. The Jimmy Garoppolo era has officially started.
Two days later the 49ers name Jimmy Garoppolo their starting quarterback for week 13 as the team heads to his hometown, Chicago. The last time the 49ers made a change and went with the "hot hand", QB Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick, it was also against the Bears in 2012.
So what should we expect to see in Garoppolo’s first career start as a 49er? Let’s take a look at his career stats heading into this matchup. He’s 65/96 (67.7 completion percentage), has 708 passing yards, a 6-0 touchdown to interception ratio, and 110.1 passer rating.
I expect Jimmy Garoppolo to get his first win versus the Bears this Sunday. The 49ers should have RT Trent Brown back this week to strengthen their offensive line that gave up 14 hits, including three sacks to Seattle, which eventually lead to C.J. Beathard’s injury. Kyle Shanahan will establish the run early with the two-headed tandem of RBs Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida to set up Garoppolo to take advantage of a defense that surrendered 420 yards of total offense and 31 points to the Philadelphia Eagles. By no means are we in the same category as the NFL-leading Eagles, but this offense will look different with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. We got a taste of it with only three plays from the 49ers new franchise quarterback this past Sunday. At 1-10 with five games left to play, there are many reasons to be excited and hopeful for what the future has to offer.