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Shanahan sees Jimmy G's aggressiveness as more gift than curse originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
You have to tip your cap to Jimmy Garoppolo.
The 49ers quarterback has remarkable self-belief. The kind of innate confidence a minute percent of the population possesses. Garoppolo has never seen a throw he won't pull the trigger on. If there's a hole, no matter how small, Garoppolo will try and thread the needle.
That aggressive nature that sometimes borders on reckless has 49ers fans on pins and needles every time Garoppolo drops back to pass. And yet, it's that aggressiveness that has allowed the 49ers to survive half a season with their backs against the wall and has them in the NFC Championship Game.
“I think one of the hardest things with Jimmy is when people are covered he believes he can just put the ball in the right spot, which he does a lot," coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday as the 49ers prepare to face the Los Angeles Rams. "That throw that he threw to Jauan Jennings on third and five that, we were hot and he didn’t have time to throw that ball, and somehow he created it, is one of the most talented throws I have ever seen, and Jauan ended up dropping it. That was unbelievable. Was it the best decision? It was because it was right on the money. But that’s the kind of stuff that not many people can pull off, and that is risky.
"So that’s a fine line when you have someone who is as talented a thrower as Jimmy is he doesn’t feel the same way always in the heat of the battle that he can’t make that throw. When you watch it on tape, then he’ll see it, but you’re not thinking about that when you're playing a sport. You’re just reacting. Those are the things that I try to put him in better situations. Sometimes when it doesn’t go the right way, yeah it’s disappointing. But I can’t tell you how many times I don’t think anyone is open, and there is no play to be made, and we need to make one or the game is going to be over, and he finds a way to make it. And I’m not then saying, ‘hey, don’t do that.’ I’m thanking him for that. So that’s playing quarterback in this league, so it goes both ways.”
Garoppolo's aggressiveness is a double-edged sword at times. His turnover-prone nature and lack of big-time arm talent is why the 49ers drafted Trey Lance to be the quarterback of the future.
But Garoppolo's gunslinger mentality also helped the 49ers storm back from a 17-point Week 18 deficit vs. the Rams -- a win the 49ers needed to get into the postseason.
With the 49ers one win away from their second Super Bowl berth in three seasons, Garoppolo knows it's imperative that he toe the line between aggressive and reckless.
“It just comes with being a quarterback, I guess," Garoppolo said Wednesday. "You have to learn as you develop as a quarterback just what time of game is it? What’s the score? Everything that’s going on, you’re always keeping track of these things in your mind. The game in Green Bay is a little bit different just dealing with the weather and things like that, so you’re taking a lot into account, but that’s just the job of a quarterback.
“If you don’t have to throw it away, you want to take a chance to a certain degree. That’s the fine line that some of those amazing plays that people make, some of those should have been throwaways, but they decided to make a play. There’s a balance there.”
The Garoppolo roller coaster has produced a 33-15 record with the 49ers, and potentially two Super Bowl berths. It has also had some face-palm-inducing moments, most of them born out of the 30-year-old's grip-and-rip-it attitude.
Interceptions like the one Garoppolo threw at the end of the first half of the 49ers' NFC divisional-round win over the Green Bay Packers are unacceptable. Garoppolo noted after the 13-10 win that he shouldn't have tried to make the throw.
When the aggressiveness bites him, Garoppolo doesn't turtle. He flushes it and trots back onto the field, ready to live in between the land of the uber-confident and the realm of the unnecessarily reckless.
It might be frustrating, but to the 49ers, it's more gift than curse.