How Jimmy Garoppolo finding early rhythm paved way for 49ers' win

How Jimmy Garoppolo finding early rhythm paved way for 49ers' win

What a difference one week can do. For Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers quarterback looked like a completely different player in Sunday's 41-17 blowout win over the Bengals. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan had Garoppolo in a groove right away. The QB completed four of his five pass attempts over the 49ers' first two drives, and each ended in a Garoppolo touchdown. Jimmy G connected with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for his first TD and dumped a screen pass to running back Raheem Mostert for San Francisco's second score. 

Former 49ers quarterback and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Jeff Garcia noticed a much improved version of Garoppolo right from the get-go.

"First of all, he got into a rhythm early," Garcia said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "He made a big throw for a touchdown on kind of a special-developing route to Goodwin. I think any time you're able to connect on those type of throws or have those type of plays, it creates confidence.

"I think for the most part, his rhythm and just getting the ball out of his hands was excellent today."

Garoppolo -- who completed 17 of his 25 pass attempts for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception -- also was on his feet all game long. While the 49ers sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times, Garoppolo wasn't sacked once. 

But Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers' offense will be without a key cog for multiple weeks. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley broke his left fibula, but he will not need season-ending surgery and says he should be back in six to eight weeks. 

"Joe is a leader on that offensive line," Garcia said. "He's a savvy veteran. He's so good at protecting the backside. He's dependable. You have a guy like that on your left side protecting the edge, you gain trust. That's huge for Jimmy." 

Justin Skule, the 49ers' sixth-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft, replaced Staley. Skule has suited up in two NFL games, Staley has 176 regular-season games under his belt. 

Not only will Garoppolo miss Staley, the 49ers' stable of running backs will as well. San Francisco racked up 572 total yards against the Bengals, with 259 coming on the ground. Matt Breida led the way with 121 yards on 12 carries, but backups Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. combined to score three touchdowns. 

Garcia believes the running game played a key role in Garoppolo's big day. 

"When you have a running game, that's what creates your opportiunity through play action and movement and moving in the pocket," Garcia said. "I think they really kept Cincinnati off guard today. From a defensive standpoint, they didn't know what's coming at them, what's hitting them."

After two games, the one thing Garcia still is looking for from the 49ers' offense is a true No. 1 receiver. Dante Pettis continues to disappoint and didn't register one reception Sunday. Goodwin is there to take the top off the defense but is a role player. 

A rookie, though, already has caught Garcia's attention. 

"Somebody needs to step into that role, and I think I see a lot of good things out of Deebo Samuel," Garcia said. 

Samuel led the 49ers with five receptions and 87 yards. The second-round draft pick also caught his first career touchdown. And while there might not be a traditional top dog at receiver for the 49ers, Garoppolo showed trust in the group and eight different players hauled in a catch against the Bengals defense. 

[RELATED: Garcia sees Staley's recovery taking longer than 8 weeks]

"Jimmy did a great job of spreading the wealth, spreading the ball around today," Garcia said. "... Outside of one throw -- the interception -- which was really just a poor decision forced into coverage, he was excellent with the football." 

Garoppolo will show signs of rust at times after tearing his ACL in the third game last season, but he also showed why he could be the one to finally lead the 49ers back to the playoffs.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress


Kyle Shanahan, 49ers targeting youth to bring about racial progress

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has met with his players by position group, from the skill players to the offensive line, from the defensive line to the defensive backs, to create an open dialogue about both the blatant and underlying systemic racism in American society exposed by yet another act of police brutality against an African American.

Shanahan also met with a veteran group to discuss the issue and help decide what the 49ers can do to create positive change.

“We’re going to do a lot,” Shanahan said Thursday in a video conference with reporters. “There’s nothing specific yet, but our guys are working hard on it.”

George Floyd’s death while in police custody, after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked outrage and social unrest in American society and the international community as a whole.

It has also heightened and broadened the desire to prevent such acts in the future and eliminate this American plague for good.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCASTListen to the latest episode]

Shanahan and his 49ers players believe they have found a place where they can help, by addressing an impressionable group that often views them as role models.

“We talk about that a lot, and what I hear the most from the players, which I believe in a ton, too, is what we can do for the youth and setting examples,” Shanahan said. “If all kids could watch our players interacting with each other, that’s how all people should interact with each other.”

Shanahan’s the son of a coach and is grateful to be someone who moved around a lot and interacted with a diverse football community, an experience that made him comfortable around people of all backgrounds. He believes that experience could benefit everyone and make communities more tolerant.

“I feel very fortunate that I have been around these situations because I’ve been in a football locker room since I was born,” Shanahan said. “You’re around everybody and it makes it comfortable, and the stuff people are born with and around [as a child] doesn’t leave.”

He wants his children to continue growing up in that environment. He hopes the 49ers can set a proper example for people young and older and help stop the racism passed down from one generation to the next.

“That’s the stuff we have to keep doing,” Shanahan said. “Well, how do we do that? You have to vote. You have to change all that stuff, which takes time. That may be the most important thing. How can we educate people on that? How can we make a difference? That’s something our players are looking into. Everybody wants to put money in the right spot, but you don’t want to just throw money around because people have thrown a lot of money at this stuff over the last 20 years and no one sees a ton of progress. There definitely isn’t enough, not until this type of stuff never happens.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan decries 'fact' of racism 'all over' in U.S.]

The 49ers don’t plan on just one action or only leadership by example. Instead, it will be a prolonged, thought-out effort to make a difference in this defining social issue.

“I know that our players are so passionate, black guys and white guys, about trying to fix this,” Shanahan said. “We know it’s not an easy answer. It’s the whole country admitting what is wrong. It isn’t debatable. We need to come out from being sheltered or ignorant or whatever it is. Whoever those people are, kids need to help their parents and the parents need to help their parents. We all need to speak about it and do [something about it].”

49ers' Kyle Shanahan decries daily 'fact' of racism in United States

49ers' Kyle Shanahan decries daily 'fact' of racism in United States

Kyle Shanahan, the son of a Hall of Fame coach, never spent more than four years in any one location growing up.

The 49ers coach moved around the country, making friends with his sports teammates. He always enjoyed a diverse group of friends.

Shanahan said Thursday during a video call with Bay Area reporters that he could see the problems from an early age. He noticed how his black friends acted differently -- scared, in fact -- in the presence of police officers.

“Racism is a big deal in our country right now,” Shanahan said. “That’s a fact. That’s not debatable. It’s always been a big deal. And it is today, just as it was a hundred years ago. I think something as a white person that bothers me is I don’t think all white people realize that.”

It is a subject Shanahan said he addressed this week with his 49ers players during their virtual meetings.

Shanahan spoke to many of the team’s offensive players on Monday. The next day, he addressed most of the 49ers’ defensive players. On Wednesday, Shanahan and 49ers general manager John Lynch got on a call with about a dozen veteran players.

“Racism is all over,” Shanahan said. “And it’s what black people deal with every day. And white people are very sheltered to that and ignorant. And that’s the message that’s been missed.

“I think white people are listening more than I’ve ever heard before, which is good. And that’s the starting point because it’s happened too long.”

George Floyd, an African American man, died last week after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the nation and the world.

The outcry around the country appears to be much greater than when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting in 2016. One year later, a white nationalists rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va. turned deadly.

“If I’m screaming for something that’s wrong, and it keeps happening, I mean, you’re going to do whatever you have to do to get people to hear you when something is that messed up,” Shanahan said. “And so each time, hell yeah, it gets worse because black people are fed up.

“And I know I’m fed up with seeing this. How do you stop this? It takes a really bad person to do something like this. The problem is, percentage-wise, there are a little too many bad people. And a community has to fix that.”

[RELATEDShanahan says people should respect and admire Kaepernick]

Shanahan said he and team members talked about the importance of voting to get their voices heard. He said the team also is discussing a number of ways in which it can affect change.

“The main thing is, how do you do it now? How do you do it a week from now? And how do you do it every day of your life? And I think everyone has to do that somewhat individually,” Shanahan said.

“I know our players are so passionate, black guys and white guys, about trying to fix this. But I think we all know it’s not an easy answer.”

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