Jimmy Garoppolo could not shake off the rust in his first game of NFL action in nearly a full year.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback made his preseason debut against the Denver Broncos on Monday night — and it wasn’t pretty. In his first game since tearing his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season, the $137 million man looked rusty, nervous and out of sync.
Jimmy Garoppolo Forgets How to Throw
After playing the game’s first three drives, Garoppolo’s final stat line looked like this: 1-of-6 for 0 yards and one interception. That’s not even mentioning that another pass should have been picked off as it was thrown directly to Broncos defensive back De’Vante Bausby — and that two more passes by Garoppolo were batted at the line of scrimmage by Broncos defensive tackle Shelby Harris.
His lone completion on the night was on a screen pass to running back Matt Breida for no gain. Under Garoppolo’s lead, the Niners had a total of one first down and a total of 19 yards on a total of 10 offensive plays.
In other words, Garoppolo’s 2019 debut went about as bad as possible, but if there was a bright spot in the Niners’ 24-15 preseason victory, it was that the 27-year-old quarterback escaped the game injury free.
Niners’ Offensive Line Just as Bad as Garoppolo
However, Garoppolo wasn’t the only one at fault. He received very little support from his offensive line, a unit that already missing starters Mike Person and Weston Richburg on the interior. That’s still no excuse for the couple of instances in which Broncos sack artist Bradley Chubb and defensive back Chris Harris were literally left untouched as they pressured Garoppolo into errant passes.
Niners offensive tackle Joe Staley simply gets beat by Chubb as he assumes he has help from the left guard. Garoppolo is then forced into an erratic throw that results in an interception on his first drive of the game.
While it’s true that the Broncos’ front line is pretty stacked — they have the best pass-rushing duo in Chubb and Von Miller — this is still very worrisome for an offensive line that will be depended upon to keep Garoppolo upright after a serious ACL injury.
Kyle Shanahan Deflects Blame Away From Jimmy Garoppolo
As Tommy Call of 95.7 FM in San Francisco details, head coach Kyle Shanahan deflected the blame away from his quarterback and onto the offensive line.
“The 49ers offensive line looked overmatched and overwhelmed vs the Broncos defense. The Broncos defensive line provided a good measuring stick opportunity for the 49ers offensive line and they failed.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan, said the 49ers “couldn’t protect long enough.” Shanahan blamed Garoppolo’s shaky start on lack of rhythm when he was on the field. “The day was over kinda before it started,” said Shanahan.
Broncos sophomore edge rusher, Bradley Chubb dominated when he was on the field against Joe Staley and Justin Skule. Garoppolo was under pressure almost every time he dropped back whether it was Chubb, Shelby Harris or Von Miller.”
With all of that said, Garoppolo clearly has a lot of ground to make up before the start of the regular season as he was vastly outplayed by the Broncos’ Joe Flacco and rookie quarterback Drew Lock.
Especially considering despite his gaudy contract and his sixth-year status, Garoppolo has thrown just 361 career passes — that’s less work than a full season under center.
The Niners will have two more preseason games as they look to instill some confidence in their franchise passer before the start of the regular season.
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