SANTA CLARA -- Coach Kyle Shanahan left little room for interpretation on Thursday as he spoke about 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Four days after the 49ers let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead slip away in the team’s 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch met with the media at Levi’s Stadium.
Garoppolo completed just two of his final nine pass attempts in a game in which he connected on 20 of 31 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
But Garoppolo’s struggles late in the game do not change how Shanahan feels about what he saw from his starter over the course of the season, he said.
“Jimmy is one of the main reasons we got to the Super Bowl,” Shanahan said. “He overcame a lot. This was his first year in his career going through an entire NFL season. He still doesn’t have as many starts as Baker Mayfield.”
Garoppolo had just 10 NFL starts in his first five NFL seasons. He was limited to just three games in 2018 due to a torn ACL he sustained in his left knee in Week 3 at Kansas City. Garoppolo got off to a rough start, as Shanahan said his quarterback fought to get into a rhythm.
Garoppolo started all 16 regular-season games and led four fourth-quarter comebacks. (Mayfield has 29 career starts with the Cleveland Browns in two seasons.)
“For him to be like that and not let the pressure get to him and improve as the year went says a ton about Jimmy,” Shanahan said. “I can’t tell you how much I love coaching the guy as a player and a person.”
Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards in 2019, the fourth-highest total in franchise history. His passer rating of 102.0 was the 49ers’ best since Steve Young had a 104.7 in 1997.