49ers

Chiefs' Frank Clark blasts 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo after 2020 Super Bowl

Chiefs' Frank Clark blasts 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo after 2020 Super Bowl

When you win, you get to say whatever you want.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark is feeling himself after his team earned a 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. After the victory, he didn't shy away from criticizing the opponent -- specifically, San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

"You paying the guy $140 million, $130 million, whatever he's getting paid, man," Clark told Fox Sports' Peter Schrager. "He's gotta throw the ball. Obviously he didn't do that. They threw for about 200 yards on checkdowns; that ain't enough to win a game against us."

There's actually quite a bit to pull apart, there. On one hand, there's no denying that the 49ers blew it. They had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, and made a series of questionable decisions that resulted in a very regrettable loss. Garoppolo played a significant role in that -- San Francisco attempted 20 passes in the second half compared to only 10 rush attempts -- and his overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders on a would-be go-ahead touchdown within the final two minutes was a huge, huge miss.

Garoppolo also made a poor decision on a first-half interception by Kansas City's Bashaud Breeland, and he has been good for one of those almost every game. But outside of those two aforementioned throws, it's not as if Garoppolo's poor execution was the reason San Francisco's passing offense wasn't more effective. 

For instance, if an extremely-questionable offensive pass interference penalty hadn't been called on tight end George Kittle late in the first half, Jimmy G would have been over 250 passing yards in the Super Bowl. Add in another third-down incompletion late in the fourth quarter when Garoppolo overthrew receiver Kendrick Bourne -- but only after Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann committed an obvious helmet-to-helmet penalty while contacting Garoppolo on a blitz -- and it's easy to point to a lot of missing yards directly tied to some questionable and/or missed calls by the officials. If you're going to evaluate him on his final stat line, you can't ignore the context within which it came.

That pass to Kittle, by the way? An absolute dime.

And if we're being fair, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' stat line arguably was inflated by the same kind of official error. For instance, if you remove the 44-yard completion to receiver Tyreke Hill in the fourth quarter -- a play on which Kansas City offensive tackle Eric Fisher got away with a blatant hold of 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa -- his stat line would look awfully similar to Jimmy G's.

Also, Garoppolo isn't the one calling the plays. That's coach Kyle Shanahan, and one could argue the 49ers played far too conservatively throughout the game, and it was just a matter of time until it came back to bite them. Perhaps with some more rush attempts sprinkled in during the fourth quarter, San Francisco achieves a much happier result.

[RELATED: Chiefs' Mathieu 'grateful' 49ers, Shanahan stopped running]

It's fair to criticize Garoppolo for the pick and overthrow, but he's not the reason the 49ers lost.

This stat shows 49ers star George Kittle's receiving, blocking mastery

This stat shows 49ers star George Kittle's receiving, blocking mastery

George Kittle is a one-of-a-kind tight end, and one stat from football analytics site Pro Football Focus is the latest indication why.

The 49ers star has been, in PFF's estimation, one of just two tight ends since 2018 to rank among the best at his position in receiving and run-blocking.

Kittle's 2,430 receiving yards over the last two seasons are second-best at his position behind Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Travis Kelce, and the Iowa product's per-game average of 81 yards actually topped Kelce. The 26-year-old also set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in 2018, even as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined for all but four games with a torn ACL. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

But the 49ers recognize Kittle is much more than a playmaker, equally valuing his contributions to the team's dominant running game.

“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL last year,” coach Kyle Shanahan said in January (H/T Jennifer Lee Chan). “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."

While Kittle's skills make him a complete tight end, he reportedly doesn't want to be paid like one. NFL Media's Mike Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access" that Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, "[doesn't] care about the tight-end market" in contract-extension negotiations with the 49ers and thinks his client's new deal should reflect Kittle's unique, all-purpose value. 

"I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal," Silver recalled Bechta saying.

The 49ers and Kittle aren't "close at all" on a new deal as a result, according to Silver.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jimmy G absorbs Montana's wisdom about winning]

There's still plenty of time for the 49ers and Kittle to reach an agreement, as he's entering the final year of his rookie deal. The 49ers, of course, can also use the franchise tag on him heading into the 2021 season.

If the two sides are going to reach a long-term deal, it sure seems like Kittle wants his receiving and blocking contributions reflected in it.

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absorbs Joe Montana's wisdom about winning

Throughout NFL history, of quarterbacks to start at least 100 career games, only Tom Brady (.773) and Roger Staubach (.746) have posted better regular-season winning percentages than 49ers legend Joe Montana (.713). So, when it comes to knowing the secrets to victory, he's a pretty good source of advice.

Montana won 117 of his 164 career regular-season starts, precisely 100 victories of which came with San Francisco. On Wednesday, he posted a photo on Instagram from the final one of those wins with the 49ers, in which he offered up a secret to his success.

"Winners, I am convinced, imagine their dreams first," Montana wrote. "They want it with all their heart and expect it to come true. There is, I believe, no other way to live."
As of the time of this writing, that post had received 15,685 likes, one of which came from another 49ers quarterback who happens to have a knack for winning as well -- Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Where Jimmy G, Carr rank among NFL starting quarterbacks]

Jimmy G, of course, displayed his penchant for winning immediately upon joining the 49ers, winning his first five starts after San Francisco acquired him midway through the 2017 season. Across 24 regular-season starts with the 49ers, he has posted a 19-5 record (.792). Not to mention, he was arguably one missed completion away from winning Super Bowl LIV.

Garoppolo might have his own secrets to his success, but it certainly can't hurt if he picks up a thing or two from Joe Cool.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]