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Captain Miller: “I don't gripe to *you*, Reiben. I'm a captain. There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you. You should know that as a Ranger.”
Private Reiben: I'm sorry, sir, but uh... let's say you weren't a captain, or maybe I was a major. What would you say then?
Captain Miller: Well, in that case... I'd say, "This is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir, worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover... I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down my life and the lives of my men - especially you, Reiben - to ease her suffering."
This line, spoken by Bay Area native and America’s sweetheart Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, illustrates an important life lesson: complaining about a situation you may find yourself in does absolutely nothing to make the situation better. It may relieve some anger at the situation, but it does not make the situation go away. The only way to do that, is to face the situation head on.
In this case, the situation was not Michael Sorrentino, but trying to quell the fears and confusion of 52 other men after witnessing a a couple of your brethren fall to injury and attempt to lead them to victory over the New York Jets while suffering from a high ankle sprain that is severely limiting your mobility.
Thankfully Jimmy Garoppolo, much like Steve Rogers, can do this all day.
This week the 49ers' needed a win. They needed to bounce back from their stagnant and sputtering performance in their week one loss to the Arizona Cardinals and no one needed it more than Garoppolo.
“Yeah, I think personally just the consistency, making every drive as perfect as we possibly can.” Jimmy said following their loss to the Cardinals. “You just want to eliminate errors, really, is what it comes down to. Just everyone being on the same page, seeing the same picture and I think we'll be good from there, but I think it's just when it comes to third down, red zone, things like that, we just have to execute at the end of the day.”
By all metrics, beating the Jets should have been an easy task. They currently have the 16th ranked defense by DVOA and their offensive personnel would be lucky to make the 49ers’ practice squad.
Early in the first quarter though, fate had other ideas. Following the injuries to Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, Garoppolo got rolled up attempting a play action pass and a Jets' defender fell on his lower legs in a similar manner to a chop block. Jimmy got up but was visibly in pain and came up limping to the sideline and headed straight to the bench where a team doctor started examining him. Fans waited with held breath while the defense held the Jets, and when Jimmy came back out with the offense for the following drive, everything seemed to be fine.
In fact, he was playing better than anyone would’ve expected.
Garoppolo went on to complete 14 of his 16 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and he completed 86.5% of his pass attempts. This was the highest number of his career and is the only quarterback who is undefeated after a loss, according to ESPN stats and info, since 2014 with minimum of five starts, having gone 5-0 after today’s win.
As the second quarter began, the 49ers' relied heavily on their run game to take the pressure off Garoppolo and keep the Jets' defense on their heels, but when the team allowed Jimmy to throw, he was spectacular. As the team entered the red zone Garoppolo completed a short pass to Kyle Juszscyk, but a run by Mostert was well scouted by the Jets' and lost yardage. On third-and-eight from the Jets 18, Garoppolo made a quick pass to tight end Jordan Reed for their second touchdown of the day. Jimmy did his best to celebrate through the limp.
The defense came back on the field and did their best to stop the Jets' from getting anything started, but Frank Gore was tough to bring down. New York spent 11 plays and six minutes to get to the 49ers' 20-yard line, only to turn the ball over on a failed fourth down conversion. Jimmy would get one more shot to score before halftime.
With 3:41 left on the clock, the 49ers tried to use the Jets' momentum against them and immediately took a deep shot downfield. It was arguably the best ball Garoppolo had thrown since coming to the 49ers, but Kendrick Bourne bobbled it a little too much and came up incomplete. Following that play, Garoppolo took a more methodical approach to chipping away at the Jets' defense: A seven-yard run by Mostert followed by an 18-yard catch by Reed got them close to midfield. As the two-minute warning came, Garoppolo knew that if the team had a chance to win, it was going to be in those final minutes. An eight-yard pass to Reed and a nine-yard pass to Trent Taylor got them within field goal range, but that wasn’t going to be enough for the 49ers. They wanted seven.
Garoppolo tried to hit Brandon Aiyuk short but pressure got to him and his limited mobility and the pass came up incomplete. A roughing the passer penalty was called, and the 49ers got not only a fresh set of downs but got to the doorstep of the red zone following the 15-yards tacked on to the end of the play.
A run by Mostert and a 10-yard pass to Tevin Coleman to the six-yard line, and a run by Coleman on the following play got them two more yards. With 11 seconds to go and this down, Garoppolo hit Reed once more, and Reed was able to shed a tackle by safety Marcus May and walk into the endzone.
Touchdown San Francisco.
The kick by Robbie Gould made the score 21-3 heading into halftime, and with :11 still on the clock, Garoppolo finished celebrating with his teammates and limped off to the locker room early. He completed his task.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know he was injured at all. He didn’t make it known to me or anyone else in the huddle.” Reed confessed following the game. “He didn’t ever wince or anything like that, he always kept his composure. So when I heard he was going out I was confused, but I’m glad it’s a small thing and he’ll bounce right back.”
If the game were any closer, Garoppolo would’ve likely fought tooth and nail to stay in the game. He has taken his share of hits and has fought back from adversity and today he showed that not only can he handle adversity, he thrives on it. Leaders thrive on it.
He can do this all day.
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