Jimmy Garoppolo has come a long way since the preseason.

You might recall San Francisco's starting quarterback looked less than stellar in the 49ers' preseason games against the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo appeared extremely uncomfortable in the pocket, which made sense, considering it was his first live-game action since tearing his ACL the year prior.

You never would have guessed that San Francisco would win its first eight games of the regular season after watching Garoppolo then, but here the 49ers are, halfway through the season and still undefeated, and Garoppolo's improvement has been a major reason why. He produced his best performance of the season in the 49ers' Week 8 win over the Cardinals on Thursday night, in which he threw a career-high four touchdown passes to four separate receivers -- a stark contrast to that preseason debut.

"I feel like he's more comfortable now," NBC Sports Bay Area's Ian Williams said of Garoppolo following San Francisco's 28-25 win. "That first preseason game ... that was his first time out there, live-action. So obviously coming off the injury, it's going to take some time to be able to build that rapport and that confidence in your head, and for your muscle memory to respond when you need it to. 

"But he's gotten better every week, and they made the acquisition last week to add Emmanuel Sanders to add some more firepower to that receiving corps. But tonight, he really shined. He hit four receivers with touchdowns, spread the ball out and he was making throws that he hadn't really done in the preseason and maybe earlier in the season where he's stepping into throws, he's avoiding the pass rush and then he's throwing the ball when he can't even see the people ... That's just showing to me that he's totally over his ACL, and he's in a rhythm right now."

 

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Nothing spoke to Garoppolo's improved comfort within the pocket more than his deft footwork against the Cardinals, which he used to avoid multiple sacks and extend several crucial plays. It was yet another instance in which he displayed his underrated mobility.

"Yeah, I feel like he showed that in Washington two weeks ago," Williams recalled. "In the rain, in the mud, him being able to avoid the pass rush and convert on some critical third downs. If he doesn't convert those with his legs, I don't know if [the 49ers] win that game. And then tonight, he was able to make guys miss and be able to get to space to be able to deliver the ball downfield."

Garoppolo continues to improve the further he distances himself from that ACL tear. If he keeps this up, neither he nor his mobility will be underrated much longer.