After taking over the starting quarterback job last season and leading the 49ers to a five game winning streak, Jimmy Garoppolo suddenly is expected to be a miracle worker in 2018.
Thanks to what he did, NFL analysts now see the 49ers as a franchise on the rise. Garoppolo, too, is being labeled one of the league’s best young quarterbacks and leaders while being compared to some of the greats – all after just five starts in the Bay Area.
Yet 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t making such bold predictions. To Shanahan, Garoppolo showed in 2017 that he’s the quarterback the team was looking for, but he wants him in 2018 to simply continue to make progress.
“I just want him to improve,” Shanahan recently told Adam Schefter of ESPN. “I think he played very well last year. Everything went right. We hadn’t won many games. We won only one game before him and then five in a row with him. That’s a lot of success right there.
“But I know it’s not going to be like that all this year. I’m pretty confident to say we won’t go undefeated. If we do, congrats. I hope I’m wrong about that. I’m not thinking that we will.”
In his six games with the 49ers in 2017, Garoppolo was 5-0 as a starter and had a quarterback rating of 96.2. He completed 67.4 percent of his throws for 1,560 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions and was sacked just eight times, showing an ability to move in the pocket to prolong plays.
He's now 7-0 in his NFL career as a starter, counting the two he made with New England in 2016. But Shanahan knows Garoppolo will eventually hit some rough patches.
“I’m looking forward to watching him play through a season. I know he’s going to have some lows. I want to see how he responds to it, how his teammates respond to it. Playing quarterback in this league isn’t just how talented you are and how good you are, it’s how you can respond to all this pressure that not many can relate to except maybe an NFL quarterback. I’m interested to watch him go through those growing pains. Hopefully we can help him out with it and let him know he’s not going through it alone.
“He’s a good player and he’s really going to help out San Francisco over the years.”
Garoppolo will officially get back to work on April 16, the first day of the first phase of the team’s offseason workout schedule. Organized team activities will be held May 21-22, May 24, May 29-30, June 1, June 4-5 and June 7, with mandatory minicamp to follow June 12-14.