For about three quarters of Super Bowl LIV, Jimmy Garoppolo was on his way to a championship.
The quarterback had helped build a 20-10 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers appeared destined to earn another Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Then the Chiefs rallied for 21 points in the fourth quarter to win 31-20, while Garoppolo completed just three of 11 throws -- and analysts have been questioning Garoppolo ever since.
Would the 49ers trade him this offseason? Would they sign Tom Brady? Would they use one of their first-round picks in the draft for a quarterback?
Suddenly, Garoppolo – who led his team to 13 wins in the regular season and then a Super Bowl appearance – was being talked about as just a game manager … and not a good one, at that.
Richard Sherman says that’s ridiculous.
The 49ers’ veteran cornerback called the criticism of Garoppolo “foolish” in an interview with KNBR this week.
“When you hear them blaming Jimmy, Jimmy doesn’t play defense,” said Sherman. “We had a 10-point lead. We get the guy a stop, we win the game.”
Sherman says it was he and his defensive teammates who could have wrapped up the victory but didn’t. Sherman was beaten by Sammy Watkins late in the game on a 38-yard catch that led to a Chiefs touchdown that secured the outcome.
Said Sherman: “Jimmy played fine. He did what he was supposed to do. We got to finish that game out. I got to finish that game out. I got to do what I’m supposed to do. I’m an All-Pro player. I got to play All-Pro down the stretch.”
Sherman’s vote of confidence echoes an earlier defense of Garoppolo from head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Despite all the talk, the 49ers have stuck with Garoppolo this offseason. There were no trades for a quarterback. There was no signing of Brady.
As the 49ers prepare for the 2020 season, Garoppolo will get a chance to build on what he did in 2019.