SANTA CLARA -- On his recent hot streak, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is giving the 49ers the best of both worlds.
Through his first seven games of the season, Garoppolo threw nine touchdown passes but also had seven interceptions. In the past six games, Garoppolo has tossed 16 touchdown throws while getting picked off just four times.
“He’s continued to make big throws and stuff, but he’s obviously eliminated some of the turnovers, which I think is huge,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on Wednesday. “Sometimes when guys make a bunch of big plays and turnovers, the only way to get them to eliminate the turnovers is to stop trying to make those big plays. I don’t think Jimmy has done that.
“He’s continued to make big plays, maybe even made more of them, and the turnovers have gone way down, which has been a huge step in the right direction.”
Chalk it up to experience.
Garoppolo had never before started more than five games in any of his first five NFL seasons. This season, he has remained healthy through 13 games – and he is no longer stuck at No. 2 on the depth chart behind one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
“Confidence comes with that, being able to do it week-in and week-out,” said Garoppolo, who spent 3 1/2 seasons as Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots prior to the trade that sent him to the 49ers in the middle of the 2017 season.
“As a quarterback, that’s what you want to do. You want to be out there for the team week after week. That’s part of your job. I wouldn’t say it’s anything special. It just gives you more confidence, though.”
Garoppolo seemingly has learned from his mistakes without over-correcting and becoming too cautious or tentative.
“The more you’re out there and the more situations you go through, good or bad,” Shanahan said. “It’s how are you going to react to them. What are you going to learn from them? Some people, the more they are out there, the more nervous they get and they go into a shell and just get worse.
“Jimmy, no matter whether a good thing or a bad thing happens to him, I feel it’s made him better each week. He learns from it, he doesn’t overanalyze it and freak out about it. He just learns from it, files it in the bank and then goes to the next week and tries to keep stacking them up.”
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Garoppolo said it took him a while to feel comfortable after his 2018 season ended in Week 3 after sustaining a torn left ACL in Kansas City.
“Taking a year off with the ACL and everything, takes a little while to get back into it,” he said.
He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday after his 349-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He said he has done nothing extraordinary during his hot streak, which has included a 124.4 passer rating over the past four games.
“It’s just going through the game plan, knowing where your outs are, knowing your hots, things like that, and taking what the defense gives you,” he said. “I don’t think it’s doing anything special or anyone making a crazy play. It’s just playing within the offense and following your rules.”