49ers

The one thing missing from Jimmy Garoppolo's first start with 49ers

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AP

The one thing missing from Jimmy Garoppolo's first start with 49ers

The Jimmy Garoppolo Era has begun with a glorious triumph that lacked only one thing you like to see from your quarterback.
 
Touchdowns.
 
Even one.
 
The San Franciscii won their second game of this forlorn season, 15-14, over the equally moribund Chicago Bears, and did so in a way that reminded its most devoted followers of the halcyon days of the Jimmy Harbaugh Era.
 
With field goals.
 
Garoppolo put up nice fantasy numbers – 293 yards on 26 of 37 attempts – but he will be defined over the long haul by touchdowns produced, not passing yards, and Sunday was his first real glimpse of what he is up against in turning this ocean liner around.
 
What he is skilled at right now is making fans feel good about their quarterback for the first time since the early days of He-Whose-Name-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned. He looks like Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard and Blaine Gabbert did not – a long-term solution to their most nagging of their many issues.
 
But his first game showed how difficult his transition will be. The 49ers, after all, are not just lacking a quarterback, but many things in many areas, and the only thing we learned Sunday is that the Bears are worse. Maybe Mitchell Trubisky can be a classic Bears quarterback, with lousy numbers on a run-and-defense-heavy team, but that depends on their talent acquisition skills.
 
Besides, this isn’t the day to declare Garoppolo anything except a handsome if slightly swarthy SOTB (Son Of The Boot). He did what was required Sunday, throwing an interception which was actually just a theft of a completion, and he gave off an aura of command with his new playmates, but it’s still too early to assume anything but his capability if provided sufficient weaponry and tutelage.
 
That is true of all quarterbacks, though. Tom Brady separated from Bill Belichick might not be Tom Brady (or, of course, vice versa) just as Joe Montana separated from Bill Walsh might not be Joe Montana (or, of course, vice versa). Neither quarterbacks nor coaches live in a vacuum, and Garoppolo could make Kyle Shanahan as Shanahan makes Garoppolo.
 
Or not. It depends, ultimately, on what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have planned to fulfill Garoppolo’s destiny. And that takes more time than we have here to suss out.
 
But he is 1-0, largely through the good graces of Robbie Gould’s foot – just as Phil Dawson hid the sins of Garoppolo’s predecessors, and David Akers (except for 2012) before him and Joe Nedney before him.
 
So maybe Garoppolo’s true test will be how quickly he makes Gould obsolete by making him a conversion rather than a field goal specialist. Garoppolo’s ultimate job, after all, will be managing touchdowns, not field position. The 49ers rank third in field goals and field goals attempted over the last eight years while ranking 28th in touchdowns, and if Garoppolo fixes that, then he is worth all the hype and all the money and all the free drinks he can generate.
 
We will monitor. After all, we have little else to do.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

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USATSI

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

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Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”