For the third time this season, Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday left the 49ers' game with an ankle injury. Garoppolo struggled before the injury, as he completed 11 of 16 passes for 84 yards and threw an interception in the 49ers' 37-27 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
Coach Kyle Shanahan's playcalling throughout the game didn't seem to indicate he had much confidence in Garoppolo's abilities, as the offense relied on a flurry of screens and short passes. NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers analyst Donte Whitner believes Garoppolo needs to be more of a gunslinger in order to make opposing defenses respect the 49ers' aerial attack.
"Right now, I don't think Garoppolo put fear in defenses in the National Football League," Whitner said Sunday on "49ers Postgame Live." "I think the papers are out on him. They understand that they can press these guys, he doesn't really want to push the ball down the field, it seems like he doesn't want to make mistakes. But you can't win like that in the National Football League."
The 49ers this season haven't been known as a team that takes shots down the field, instead relying on yards after the catch and excellent athletes in space to make plays. Garoppolo hasn't earned that trust from his head coach, or at least the 49ers' playcalling gives that impression. But nevertheless, Whitner believes the 49ers must attack down the field more often if they want to be a more balanced offense.
"Where is the element of surprise on this offense?" Whitner said. "Where is the deep balls, where is the double moves? This team was ready for every one of their trick plays today, they were ready for your wide receiver screens, they were ready for your misdirection.
"They didn't take a shot down the football field until late in the second half."
It's hard to imagine Shanahan wouldn't like to take more chances with his passing offense, but his available personnel simply doesn't give him much of a chance to do that at this stage.
They'll need to figure out a better plan of attack next week, as the 49ers will host the Green Bay Packers on short rest for "Thursday Night Football."