Until about a week ago, it was all positivity for Jimmy Garoppolo's stint with the 49ers.
But the first hint of negative press for the 49ers quarterback began with a five-interception practice on Aug. 14 and then hit full steam after he posted a 0.0 passer rating after 11 snaps in Denver on Monday.
Coach Kyle Shanahan believes that Garoppolo has the ability to operate without letting the noise be a distraction, but he also understands that it’s only human to let it affect you.
“He has the ability to do it,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy’s not a guy who is out all the time and really wanting to read about himself. He’s a very humble guy and has the right personality. But, he’s also human, too.”
Shanahan went through a similar struggle himself, after reading an article back when he was the offensive coordinator in Washington under his father, Mike, who was the head coach.
“I had success my first couple years in Houston as a coordinator and I was really young and I just thought that everything was easy and why does anyone get stressed out and then I go to Washington and I wasn’t as good anymore,” Shanahan recalled.
“I accidentally read a paper one day and it told me how bad I was, and that was my first job ever, and I only got it because of my dad. And I’d like to say that didn’t mess me up but it did for a little bit.”
One of the qualities that Shanahan looks for in players is an even temperament. He regularly cites wanting a player whose emotions are too high or too low. He believes that not reading glowing stories about yourself is as important as not reading the negative.
“That’s human nature, and you start to learn that stuff and you realize, holy cow, that can affect you and I’m not going to read that ever again," Shanahan said.
"And I’m also not going to read it when it tells me how good I am, because if it tells me how good I am, then that makes me feel a lot better about myself then I’m going to feel that much worse when it tells me how bad I am.”
Football pundits might think that a lot rides on Garoppolo’s success in Kansas City on Saturday. But for his coach, that’s not necessarily the case. Shanahan shot down the notion that their matchup against the Chiefs has a value more than just an exhibition game.
“It’s elevated stakes if your goal is the day after the game to make sure people talk good about you, but, that’s not our goal,” Shanahan said. “Our goal is to be as good as we can for Tampa.
“If your world and why you play this sport has to do with pleasing talk shows and making sure everyone says you’re good, even though that doesn’t mean you are, then yeah, it probably is."
The 49ers coach would prefer that his players simply focus on what they can control in their preparation for the regular season.
“I really hope our guys are stronger than that,” Shanahan said. “I hope our guys go out and focus on doing the best they can, trying to execute.”
He emphasized that a team’s record in the preseason has nothing to do with their success in the regular season.
“I’ve been 4-0 in the preseason and had everyone love us and have started 0-4 after that. They don’t remember that,” Shanahan said. “I’ve gone 0-4 in the preseason and won our first game. They forget very quick.”
While Shanahan has learned to mute the noise, both good and bad, he hopes Garoppolo can learn to do the same. He believes it is a key to longevity and success in the league.
“You do the best you can every week.,” Shanahan said. “It’s a hard league and just because you don’t have success one week it does not mean you’re not good. It’s week in and week out, it changes every week and the strong people survive in this league.”