Jimmy Garoppolo is moving well and on track to be healthy and fit for the 2019 season. So, of course, there is optimism among the 49ers organization and its fan base that the team can turn the tables on an awful 2018 season and compete in 2019.
After all, it was Garoppolo in late 2017 who looked like the second coming of Joe Montana in leading the 49ers to five straight wins at the end of a horrible season. During that stretch he completed 67.4 percent of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 96.2.
Then came 2018.
In his first season as an NFL starter, Garoppolo – acquired from the Patriots in 2017 – played just three games before a season-ending knee injury and didn’t play at the level he did the year before. He completed 59.6 percent of his passes, had a quarterback rating of 90.0 and took 13 sacks (he went down just eight times in five games the year before).
Though he still made some great plays, Garoppolo and the 49ers were 1-2 in his starts.
Now, as Adam Rank of NFL.com noted recently, it’s “fair to ask” if Garoppolo is the whiz kid of 2017 or the less-effective QB “who stumbled out of the gate” in 2018?
Rank says he’s a huge believer in Garoppolo, but says Tom Brady’s former backup in New England “is going to need to step up” in 2019.
Wrote Rank: “He threw three interceptions in the season-opening loss at Minnesota, and he was fortunate that a potentially crushing pick-six was wiped out by a penalty in the team’s win over the Lions in Week 2. That said, he played really well against the Chiefs before suffering the ACL injury. In fact, he led the 49ers on three consecutive scoring drives before his season ended. Had he not been injured, could the 49ers have won that game, improving to 2-1 instead of embarking on a six-game losing skid? It’s possible.”
James Aguirre of Pro Football Network has similar questions in an article this week, writing that Garoppolo now has questions of durability and consistency he must answer, and says his success has been in a small sample size. Yet Aguirre also says this:
“Bill Belichick was willing to trade Tom Brady and move on with Garoppolo. In other words, the greatest coach of all time was ready to trade the greatest quarterback of all time because of Garoppolo. Of course concerns exist. … However, his talent and upside are apparent. The time is now for Garoppolo to prove the doubters wrong.”
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Garoppolo-Faces-a-Prove-It-Season-With-49ers-510861491.html.