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."
49ers on the board first 👏
pic.twitter.com/09qyKPAKLN— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) September 15, 2019
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.
"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.