George Kittle has had enough, and surely he isn't the only one on the 49ers to feel that way.
The standout tight end vociferously came to the defense of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during an appearance on Tuesday's episode of ESPN's "First Take," using factual evidence as a retort to the undeserved criticism being flung his QB's way.
Kittle made several strong arguments and got his general point across. But if he needs some new material to use in coming to Jimmy G's defense the next time around, there are plenty more numbers that will do the talking for him.
The trouble with measuring quarterback play is that the position has evolved so quickly, and the metrics haven't been able to keep up. Depending on what any single QB stat you're looking at, it could be missing a humongous piece of the picture. The traditional passer rating, for instance, completely ignores any rushing element a quarterback provides. Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson rushed for 1,206 yards on his way to winning league MVP last season. Sort of a crucial part of his candidacy, wouldn't you say?
So, as things currently stand, the best way to evaluate the quarterback position might be through an average of generally reliable QB-centric statistics, which is precisely what The Athletic's Ben Baldwin provided Wednesday. As you can see, there are far more names listed below Garoppolo's than there are above it.
Some measures of quarterback play in 2019 (PFF grades, QBR, and CPOE).— Ben Baldwin (@benbbaldwin) March 31, 2020
The "Index" column represents averages over the other 3 columns, with the value being standard deviations above or below average (ie 0.0 represents being perfectly average among QBs with 320 plays). pic.twitter.com/aB0p8DcUyZ
For the analytically-disinclined, allow me to explain. The first three data columns correspond to three separate QB statistics: PFF (Pro Football Focus rating), QBR (quarterback rating) and CPOE (completion percentage over expectation). They each do a pretty good job of encapsulating the position, but when combined and averaged, the three form a more comprehensive and accurate study.
The final "Index" column represents that average, with the value being how many standard deviations above or below each individual QB's performance was, relative to a league-average quarterback (0.0) across 320 plays.
Make sense? The general rule is: The higher a quarterback is listed in the Index column, the better they were last season.
As you can see, Garoppolo was 0.4 standard deviations better than the "perfectly average" QB last season. That might not sound like much, but it was superior to nearly two-thirds of the other starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
A closer look reveals that Jimmy G ranked 13th according to PFF and 12th according to QBR. That would suggest that Garoppolo was not only above average in each individual metric, but is among the NFL's best when it comes to completing passes with a high degree of difficulty.
Garoppolo is 21-5 as a starter, just led San Francisco to the Super Bowl coming off an ACL tear and, clearly, was one of the better quarterbacks in the league in doing so. Why he remains a target of heavy criticism is anyone's guess, but his numbers don't lie.