One to Watch this Weekend: Week 16

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Sometimes this column points a spotlight at a young up-and- comer. Sometimes it’s an under-the-radar guy that deserves a little closer look. Often it’s a guy who I think might be poised to have a big game. This week it’s a little bit of all of the above, but mostly, I’m really interested to see how he does against a legit contender.

Jimmy G was at the center of a lot of off-season trade rumors, none of which materialized. The midseason trade from New England to San Francisco struck many as strange, as did San Francisco’s reluctance to play him during his first few weeks, despite the team struggling and C.J. Beathard not being the answer to anyone’s questions. An injury to Beathard jump-started the Jimmy G era in San Francisco, and they haven’t  looked back. Garoppolo put the Niners in the end zone on just his second passing play late in a losing effort to the Seahawks. Since then, they’ve won three straight, including a back-breaker against the Titans in which he threw for 381 yards on 72% passing. Since that Seattle game, he’s averaging 8.9 yards per attempt. That’s pretty darn good. Want to know who he’s better than when you look at that stat? Every
starting quarterback in the league. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Including Jedi Master Brady. Want to look at completion percentage? Sure. Garoppolo is second only to Drew Brees among starting quarterbacks at 68.7%. Tell me again how the Niners were just bringing him in as a stopgap measure.

He’s already beaten the Bears, Texans and the Titans, but this week’s competition is a whole other animal. If Jimmy G wants to prove he belongs on the big stage, this weekend’s tilt against Jacksonville will be a great chance to show his stuff. I hear you laughing. I hear you saying that he’s going to be obliterated by the Jags secondary and their pass rush. Yeah. It’s a scary defense and they are fighting for a playoff spot. Here’s the thing though…

Garoppolo has played against this defense before. Granted, it was the pre-season version, but he started the Patriots game against the Jaguars back in August. How did he do in that Patriots loss to the Jags? He threw for 235 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions and a 78.4% completion percentage. In other words, he carved the Jaguars up. What’s that? You say that in that game he had the Patriots offensive weapons to help him. Yeah…except he didn’t. At all. That was the game in which the Hoodie sat forty, count them, forty starters. Garoppolo shredded the unit that has become the best defense in the NFL with guys from the practice squad.

NOW are you interested to see what he can do this weekend? Yeah…I thought so.

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Tom Capo


Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.




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