Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is one person who does not require any further evidence to conclude Jimmy Garoppolo is a top-flight NFL quarterback.
The 49ers narrowly swept the season series against Arizona last season, and Garoppolo was the main reason.
“Both times we played Jimmy, he was awesome,” Kingsbury said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
Garoppolo and the 49ers open the regular season on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara against Kingsbury's team.
For Kingsbury, it's a scary thought that Garoppolo could be significantly improved this season due to the experiences and knowledge gained from being in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense for a full season.
“He played as good as anybody played against us all year in both games," Kingsbury said of Garoppolo. "I’m a big fan of his. I think he’s a special talent.”
Garoppolo completed 62 of 82 pass attempts for 741 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the two victories over Arizona last season.
The 49ers pulled out a come-from-behind victory over the Cardinals when Garoppolo hit running back Jeff Wilson out of the backfield for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining on Nov. 17 at Levi’s Stadium.
Most impressive, Garoppolo compiled those big numbers with All-Pro tight end George Kittle on the field for just one half of one game. Kittle sustained left knee and ankle injuries on the 49ers’ first offensive play of the teams’ Oct. 31 meeting.
Kittle remained in the game through the half and finished with six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown before exiting the lineup and missing the return game two weeks later.