Nobody’s stock is going up faster in San Francisco than Jimmy Garoppolo’s.
Garoppolo, aka Jimmy GQ, aka Jimmy Montana, is officially the Bay’s bae after leading the 49ers to a 44-33 win over the Jaguars and their NFL-best defense on Christmas Eve. Garoppolo, who took over in San Francisco in Week 13 and is now 6-0 as a starter in his career with the Patriots and Niners, led the 49ers to their fourth-straight win after the team had gone 4-27 in their previous 31 games. Less than two months after the 49ers sent a second-round pick to the Patriots for Tom Brady’s heir, the deal looks like a heist. The trade has sparked fierce debate among Ringer staffers, but the only thing everyone can agree on is that Garoppolo looks like a bona fide rockstar.
Across his first three starts as a 49er, Garoppolo averaged a line of 26 completions on 38 attempts (68.1 percent) and 336 yards. Jimmy GQ certainly looked the part in his three-year stint in New England, where he convinced many Patriots fans he was worth keeping, but his first three starts in San Francisco showed that he walked the walk and, in the most Brady-like fashion, could talk the talk.
As great as Garoppolo looked through three weeks, though, two of those three wins came against the lowly Bears and the Texans. This week’s contest against #Sacksonville represented the starkest challenge yet. The Jaguars entered Week 16 ranked first in sacks; second in fewest total yards; and first in defense and pass DVOA while giving up the fewest points, passing yards, and passing first downs. They’ve basically been a wood chipper, but designed to shred quarterbacks. Yet Garoppolo promptly completed 21 of 30 attempts for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against them, as San Francisco logged 44 points, tied for the most the Jaguars have allowed this season. Garoppolo is the only quarterback to log a 100+ passer rating against the Jags this year, with no other starting quarterback breaking 87.
Still, the numbers alone don’t do Garoppolo justice. Plays like this do, where on third and goal from the 5, he sprints to his left (non-throwing) side, slows to a jog, centers his chest, and whips a side-arm rocket to Trent Taylor.
It’s one of those moves that seems like it shouldn’t be allowed, and it’s what already separates Garoppolo from all but a handful of guys in the league. As Ringer deputy editor Mallory Rubin wrote in The Ringer’s NFL Slack:
With Garoppolo, the 49ers look like they’ll be contenders in 2018, and it’s terrifying to think of what Kyle Shanahan will be able to scheme with Garoppolo and whatever weapons the team adds in the draft or free agency. The 49ers will have to choose whether to sign him to a long-term deal or assign him the franchise tag, but that’s a dilemma the bulk of the league would love to face. The 49ers have a franchise quarterback, and with him they have a new era.