49ers

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo using outside criticism as Super Bowl 54 fuel

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo using outside criticism as Super Bowl 54 fuel

SANTA CLARA — Richard Sherman is known for calling out critics on social media, his recent “discussion” with Darrelle Revis on Twitter being a perfect case in point. 

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, on the other hand, seems unfazed by critics but claims he does have similarities to the way the veteran cornerback finds his drive. 

“Yeah, Sherm, everyone has different ways to get motivated, and very similar to Sherm I do the same thing,” Garoppolo said. “I hear all the stuff and everything, but you can't put that all out there all the time. You have to do with it what you will and take it for what it is. Just at the end of the day you've got to go out there and play football.”

There might be outside noise about Garoppolo’s ability to rack up numbers on the stat sheet but he actually had a very productive regular season, throwing for 3,978 yards. That number ranks him fourth in passing yards for a single season in franchise history behind Jeff Garcia (2000: 4,278 yards) and Steve Young (1998: 4,170 and 1993: 4,023) 

Veteran left tackle Joe Staley was a little surprised that Garoppolo even pays attention to the criticism. 

“If he says he sees it, he doesn't show it,” Staley said. “He’s been the same exact person since he's been in here. He prepares the exact same way. We have the utmost confidence in him to do whatever needs to be done. We’ve had plenty of games this season where we've really had to lean on him heavily to win the games for us and he's come through every single time.” 

“I think that's a storyline because we didn't throw the ball obviously the last game, but we didn't need to. I think that's also a strength of Kyle is that he's going to do whatever it takes to win the game and whatever he feels is working the best is what we're going to do.”

In the 49ers' two postseason wins, Garoppolo has only thrown 27 pass attempts, completing 17 for 208 yards and one touchdown. His eight pass attempts in the NFC Championship Game was his lowest total of the season. In contrast, the run game has been highly productive with 47 attempts for 186 yards in the divisional win over the Vikings and 42 attempts for 285 yards in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. 

Garoppolo has been productive when his number has been called this season. He completed 34 of his 45 attempts for 424 yards and four touchdowns in Week 11 during San Francisco's 36-26 win over the Cardinals. 

Jimmy G's most memorable performance of 2019 might be the team’s 48-46 Week 14 win over the Saints in New Orleans. He connected on 26 of his 35 attempts for 349 yards and four touchdowns in the hostile environment that is the New Orleans Superdome.  

Staley doesn’t understand the criticism of his quarterback and in fact appreciates his attitude, remarking that it’s a reflection of the locker room. The whole team knows that if the run game is working, they are going to stick with it. 

“That doesn't fall on Jim's shoulders at all,” Staley said. “It's a complete team effort and I think that's another example of this team being very selfless in what we're doing is that you have the quarterback could care less if he throws 500 yards or if he throws for 10. He just wants to win the game and the whole entire team is like that.”

[RELATED: Juszczyk's versatility brings juice to 49ers' run game]

Garoppolo claims his reaction to hearing the outside criticism has been the same since he was young. 

“I don't know,” Garoppolo said. “I think maybe having two older brothers, you say too much, you keep your mouth shut a little bit. Just, I don't know. I think it just comes for me naturally, how I am.”

NFL free agency: Should 49ers pursue Bengals' A.J. Green in offseason?

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NFL free agency: Should 49ers pursue Bengals' A.J. Green in offseason?

A.J. Green last played in an NFL game on Dec. 2, 2018. He injured his toe that game and underwent season-ending surgery shortly after. 

Green then missed all of last season as the Cincinnati Bengals' star receiver dealt with an ankle injury. And yet, he's one of the biggest names set to hit free agency. So, should the 49ers go take a run at signing the seven-time Pro Bowler?

Talent-wise, yes. But it's not that simple. 

Green, who turns 32 years old on July 31, has played nine games the last two seasons. He has missed 29 games since 2016 and isn't getting any younger. But he also is one of the most talented receivers in the league when healthy. 

The former No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft started his career with five straight seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards. He was well on pace to extending that streak in 2016 when he had 964 receiving yards in 10 games and then had 1,078 in 2017. 

San Francisco simply doesn't have any receivers with his kind of pedigree. Deebo Samuel opened eyes as a rookie, and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. The 49ers have to add talent around the young South Carolina product, though. 

Green also is the kind of large target coach Kyle Shanahan hopes to add for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Samuel is listed at 5-foot-11 and 214 pounds. Green, however, is 6-4 and 210 pounds.

One NFL executive believes Green hopes to move on from the Bengals this offseason, too. 

"I think he wants out of Cincinnati," the exec told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. 

That, however, isn't in Bengals coach Zac Taylor's plans

"He's a guy that we're excited about to have part of this team, first and foremost. That’s what matters right now," Taylor said Thursday in his interview on the '"Bengals Beat Podcast." "As we go through the offseason, we'll figure out how it best fits. But right now, we expect him to be a part of the team. We want him to be a part of the team.

"He's certainly been a valuable member for the last couple years and done some great things. I'm excited to coach him, really for the first time this next season."

Green signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Bengals in 2015. He will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time this offseason, and the veteran still could sign another hefty contract. The same executive told ESPN that "even 'B' receivers are getting $14 million to $15 million."

The 49ers currently have just under $17.9 million available in cap space this offseason, according to Spotrac. San Francisco also has its own contracts to take care of in free agent Arik Armstead, as well as extensions for George Kittle and DeForest Buckner. 

[RELATED: Why 49ers could add Gabriel to receiver mix this offseason]

One way or another, the 49ers should look to give Jimmy G more weapons this offseason. This year's NFL draft class is loaded with receivers and the front office could make that their priority with their first pick. There's no doubt Green could be a great option in free agency, but it all comes down to health. 

"As long as the foot checks out, he's still elite," an NFC personnel evaluator said to ESPN. 

That's a big if, though. Green is one talented question mark.

49ers roster analysis: Work needed to keep up defensive line dominance

49ers roster analysis: Work needed to keep up defensive line dominance

This is the sixth installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

We continue with a look at the 49ers’ defensive line.

Under contract (signed through)

-Dee Ford (2023)
-DeForest Buckner (2020)
-Nick Bosa (2022)
-Solomon Thomas (2020)
-D.J. Jones (2020)
-Jullian Taylor (2021)
-Kentavius Street (2021)
-Kevin Givens (2021)
-Willie Henry (2020)
-Ray Smith (2021)
-Alex Barrett (2021)
-Jonathan Kongbo (2022)

Buckner is scheduled to play on the fifth-year option of $14.36 million, but the 49ers would like to work out a multi-year contract extension for him and likely see his cap number come down this year.

Ford’s $13.65 million salary for the 2020 season becomes fully guaranteed on April 1. Ford signed the lucrative deal a year ago after coming from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade for a second-round draft pick.

Thomas is scheduled to enter the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. The 49ers will not pick up the fifth-year option for 2021, but it is not out of the question he could return beyond this season on a significantly reduced contract.

Expiring contracts

-Arik Armstead (UFA)
-Ronald Blair (UFA)
-Sheldon Day (UFA)
-Damontre Moore (UFA)
-Anthony Zettel (UFA)
-Earl Mitchell (UFA)

The 49ers could use the franchise tag on Armstead, but that would require the team committing more than $19 million to him for the 2020 season. The 49ers prefer to re-sign Armstead to a multi-year extension for a lower annual average.

What needs to happen

The 49ers had tremendous depth along the defensive line, but it never seems to be enough at this position. That is why the 49ers will always be looking for more players at this spot. The 49ers could use another outside pass rusher capable of six sacks on the season.

Armstead will cost the most to retain among all the 49ers’ free agents. How high are they willing to go? Lynch made it sound as if the team is focused on a long-term contract, rather than the fallback of merely placing the franchise tag on him.

It might be even a greater priority to work out a long-term extension with Buckner, who enters the final year of his contract. All you need to know about how Buckner is viewed inside the organization became evident when the coaching staff voted him as the winner of the Bill Walsh Award.

Blair and Day are scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Blair served an important role as a backup nickel pass-rusher. His absence after he sustained a torn ACL in the middle of the season was felt. Blair could have taken some of the pass-rush snaps to enable others on the defensive line to remain fresh.

Day could be a starter somewhere else. But when Jones slated to start again this season at nose tackle, the 49ers are not likely to pay much to retain him as a backup.

[RELATED: Why 49ers' O-Line is in good shape for immediate future]

Expectations

The 49ers defensive line was dominant last season. It was San Francisco's strength, and they need to be even more dominant this season.

Bosa quickly established himself as a star. Buckner is another star. Ford has to take the necessary steps in the offseason to make sure the 49ers do not lose him for long stretches of time next season.

Armstead gives the 49ers exactly what they need. He’s a base defensive end who moves inside to rush the passer in nickel situations. If he returns, the 49ers should have the best collection of defensive linemen in the league. If Armstead is not back, the 49ers must add a lower-cost option who fits the scheme and minimizes the drop-off.

Thomas will be back for his fourth season with the 49ers, and there is no reason why he can't produce significantly more in 2020 as a rotational player.