Jimmy Garoppolo's 27 pass attempts through the 49ers' first two playoff games last season led many to question the level of trust the organization and head coach Kyle Shanahan have in the quarterback.
Even after he arguably outplayed superstar Patrick Mahomes through two and a half quarters in Super Bowl LIV, coming up short on several critical plays late only furthered that discourse into the offseason.
The 49ers confirmed looking into Tom Brady's free agency this offseason and rumors continue to swirl about a potential change at the position in the coming years. NBC Sports Bay Area's Donte Whitner, in an interview with Alameda native and former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, believes the 49ers have had to build their offense around Garoppolo's deficiencies.
"I'm seeing a non-traditional offense. They're understanding that a lot of these guys can't drop back and throw the ball 25, 30 times a game, be able to decipher what defense you're in, get you into the right play, and then deliver the football on time and accurately," Whitner said on "Players Only" this week. "They've been handicapped by college football, calling their plays from the sideline, telling them exactly which play to run, telling the offensive line and the backs where to block and who to block.
"So Kyle Shanahan has gotten creative, he doesn't really need Garoppolo to throw it that many times, he just needs to throw it where he tells you to throw it. That's why he has so many screens, misdirections, plays where he can get the ball easily and into the playmakers' hands, and allow them to make plays with their feet."
George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk all are adept at producing yards after the catch, leading to the trio getting a fitting nickname.
Shanahan's creativity will continue to do what it can to mask Garoppolo's faults, but the offense has shown it can't be fully reliant on the QB to win games.