San Francisco

Niners' Garoppolo Was Sharp When It Counted

Quarterback fought through a rough start to lead San Francisco past the Steelers and to a 3-0 season start

On the stat sheet, Jimmy Garoppolo’s day wasn’t all that good.

In Sunday’s 24-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Garoppolo threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

Three turnovers in one game is far from ideal.

But in this case, the stat sheet isn’t indicative of the game Garoppolo had in leading his team to a third straight win to open this 2019 season.

He completed 23-of-32 throws for 277 yards, including a 5-yarder to Dante Pettis for the winning score with 1:20 remaining, and led an offense that outgained the Steelers 436 yards to 239.

Wrote the analytic website Pro Football Focus, of Garoppolo’s performance: "(He) turned in a solid effort despite a lackluster box score. He was accurate throughout the (game), and his turnovers were more so a result of chance than poor decision-making on his part."

Garoppolo’s first interception was a pass that running back Matt Breida bobbled, with the ball bouncing into the hands of a Steelers linebacker. His second was a pass that was right on target to Pettis, but again caromed off the receiver’s hands and into the grasp of a Pittsburgh defensive back.

In fact, the 49ers offense was working well, but San Francisco committed five turnovers, including four in the first 18 minutes, leading to the 49ers trailing at halftime, 6-3. San Francisco put up 14 points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth to get the win.

It’s the first time the 49ers have started 3-0 since 1998.

Plus, Garoppolo was sacked just once, but hit often by the Steelers pass rush. Yet as the game progressed, the 49ers QB seemed to get even sharper and was especially good late in the game when he needed to a touchdown drive.

Cornerback Richard Sherman said Garoppolo gets better when he’s getting hit.

"He loves it," the 49ers cornerback told reporters. "He’s strong and he’s persevering. He likes getting hit. I don’t know why. Not every quarterback likes it. Kinda wakes him up. It didn’t bother him throughout the game. He stayed poised, especially on the game-winning drive."

Added fullback Kyle Juszczyk: "I just love how resilient he is. He has no fear. … He’ll step in there, take the hit and he doesn’t shy away from the next play. He continues to do it."

Through three games, Garoppolo has completed 69 percent of his throws with five TD passes. The ugly part of his stat line is his four interceptions. But, he’s been sacked just twice and his 96.3 quarterback rating is higher than the 96.2 rating he had in 2017 when he led the 49ers to five straight wins to close the season.

The 49ers have a bye this coming Sunday. They don’t play again until a Monday night matchup with the Browns on Oct. 7.

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