YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo returned to regular-season action on Sunday after nearly one year on the sideline. And a lot has changed since then.
First, Garoppolo learned that he better keep his helmet nearby when he returns to the sideline.
“Yeah, you’ve got to,” he said.
That’s because the 2019 version of the 49ers’ defense is clearly far more apt to give Garoppolo and the offense shorter breaks on the sideline. The 49ers generated four takeaways on Sunday in a 31-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A year ago, the 49ers forced an NFL-record low seven turnovers in 16 games.
“It’s a good problem to have, for sure,” Garoppolo said Wednesday at Youngstown State University, where the club his practicing before their Week 2 game at the Cincinnati Bengals.
Garoppolo typically goes over the defensive looks from the previous series with quarterbacks coach Shane Day, who advises him on adjustments to be made and what to expect next.
“We try and get over that and look at the pictures as quick as we can with Shane and the rest of the QBs, and when the defense is getting turnovers like that, though, you’re never going to be upset about that,” Garoppolo said.
Garoppolo usually is concentrating on his own responsibilities, so he missed one of the pivotal turnovers from Sunday’s game at Tampa -- Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Garoppolo had to hustle onto the field for the two-point conversion, which he converted with a pass to Deebo Samuel.
“I usually feel the reaction from the sideline,” Garoppolo said. “If something big happens, a turnover or something like that, the sideline’s going nuts. Like Witherspoon’s interception, I didn’t even actually see that one. Everyone just started going nuts on the sideline. It was, yeah, a great spot to be.”
Garoppolo believes he is in a great spot after Week 1. He completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. There is plenty to clean up, yet the 49ers still exited Tampa with a victory.
“(There are) things to correct,” he said. “Missed a couple throws I wish I could’ve had back. Little things, they’re fixable, too. Just got to learn from them week-to-week and keep progressing.
“I missed a couple throws that I think usually I would’ve hit. That’s just part of it. I think as the season goes on, like I said, you try and keep improving and that’s all you can really ask for.”