• John Bulmer

Jimmy G-ame Winner: Why Sunday's Win Was So Important to Jimmy, and Can He Keep His Momentum Going?

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In recent times, nothing polarizes the 49ers fan base as much as Jimmy Garoppolo and speculation over his future has been rife for the last couple of years. Many fans thought that when Trey Lance got the start - due to Jimmy’s injury - against Arizona, that Jimmy’s time was up. However, the injury bug bit again and like a modern-day Lazarus, No. 10 was back from the dead.

But could he keep the job this time? Could he roll back the clock and play like pre-ACL-injury Jimmy Garoppolo? If ever there was a game set up for a player, it was this one. The Chicago-area native was going back home, playing against the 3-4 Bears, a team missing Khalil Mack on defense, in front of 100 of his closest family and friends.

But you can only do your job and that’s exactly what Garoppolo did.

The numbers above are reminiscent of 2017 or 2019 Garoppolo and accurately represent the confidence he showed in the game. This was just what the doctor ordered and couldn’t have come at a better time, being the week before the trade deadline. It highlighted why the 49ers haven’t yet completed the transition at quarterback and what the veteran can do when he’s in the mood.

Can He Keep it up?

And now for the $64,000 question! Jimmy Garoppolo has shown many times over the past four years that he can have games like this and be very effective.

Some fans have referred to him as Jimmy W for his record and knack of getting results, but QB wins is not the most reliable stat in such a team sport. One of the biggest knocks on Garoppolo, besides being injury-prone and his lack of natural physical gifts, is the fact that he is merely a game manager who needs everything in his favour to be successful.

There is certainly some justification for this viewpoint as he has struggled when deprived of weapons or stuck behind a leaky offensive line. However, when given protection and a strong running game, it is a different story.

As you can see above, the Bears’ defense was a complete non-factor, allowing Garoppolo the time to slice and dice his way through them.

Add in to this the rushing touchdowns and it paints a pretty picture. The fact that the 49ers’ rushing game came back shouldn’t be overlooked either. If Elijah Mitchell can continue to have production like this, then that is the formula Kyle Shanahan used to get to the Super Bowl back in 2019. Mitchell had 137 yards on 18 carries, going into the record books as only the second rookie in franchise history to have three 100-yard performances in their debut season.

What Happens Next?

If Garoppolo can use this as a springboard, and everything goes to plan then there is still an outside chance of the team having a winning season and possibly scraping into the playoffs. Longer term, that should get him a better deal for next year, but his future still lies elsewhere.

For that to happen, though, Garoppolo needs to keep taking shots downfield. The narrative has long been that he doesn’t have the arm to take shots downfield outside the numbers, but statistics tell a different story.

The last line there is the most important one though: can he stay healthy? The last time he was, the numbers were good. On Sunday, he again proved that he could complete downfield passes and move the ball through the air. If he is to have any success, he needs to regain this dimension and be bold. He doesn’t have anything to lose now so why not throw caution to the wind?

His best spell came back in 2017 when he didn’t have access to the full playbook, when he was just shooting from the hip. Find that guy again and go out in a blaze of glory. At the very least he is playing for his future; the current draft QB stock is looking underwhelming to say the least and a strong performance this year could see him ending up in a better situation next year.

As much as some people are pro-Lance (including me), a successful Jimmy Garoppolo benefits everyone and gives the team a good shot at making the post-season. It would be a great way for his adventure in Santa Clara to end and a fitting send off for a man who (lest we forget) gave us hope again in 2017 and played in a Super Bowl in 2019.


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