Jeff Garcia: Jimmy Garoppolo's ill-advised decision robs him of valuable experiences

Jeff Garcia: Jimmy Garoppolo's ill-advised decision robs him of valuable experiences

Jeff Garcia faced the same situation many times over the course of his 11-year NFL career -- and, before that, five seasons in the CFL.

Through experience and knowing his own physical abilities, Garcia could determine after breaking the pocket when to slide or when to try to pick up additional yards. There certainly were times when Garcia was accused of putting his body at unnecessary risk.

But what seems clear to everyone also is obvious to Garcia: Jimmy Garoppolo should have simply stepped out of bounds Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It’s one of those things where we talk about the intelligence of the quarterback and growth and maturity at that position, and I think it’s just one of those things, where with time and experience, he’s going to learn to make better decisions in those types of situations,” Garcia said on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee, is an analyst on NBC Sports Bay Area.

On a third-and-goal from the Kansas City 20-yard line and the 49ers trailing by two touchdowns with more than five minutes to play, Garoppolo scrambled to his left, got around the corner and ran along the left sideline. Garoppolo advanced the ball inside the 10-yard line. Then, with four defensive players surrounding him, he made the regrettable decision to attempt to cut back inside for additional yardage.

Garoppolo’s left knee gave out as he tried to change direction. A split-second later, Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson leveled Garoppolo with a high hit. Initially, some 49ers players and coaches feared Garoppolo sustained a concussion.

Instead, Garoppolo grabbed at his left knee. He will undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which will require a six- to nine-month recovery period.

“As much as I want to be supportive of him as a competitor, because I know that feeling of wanting to do whatever you can for your team,” Garcia said. “You want to show your physical and mental toughness, but you also have to know your limitations. And I think in that situation, as much as trying to get 1 or 2 extra yards was probably on his mind, he has to understand that he’s not a typical running quarterback. That’s not his strength.”

The season-ending injury will have a major impact on the remainder of the 49ers’ season. But it also could have a carry-over effect for Garoppolo, who turns 27 in November and will enter his sixth NFL season in 2019.

“He’s still raw. It was only his 10th start in the National Football League,” Garcia said. “He hasn’t even completed an entire season at this point, and you just wish he would’ve had a different mindset at that point.”

Garcia said Garoppolo’s mindset should have been to get some yardage back in order to make a fourth-down play manageable. He accomplished that goal. Then, he should have gotten out of bounds to save time and avoid a hit to his head or his throwing shoulder.

Garcia said the remainder of the team will continue to develop and improve over the course of the season, but Garoppolo will miss out on the valuable experiences of going through 16 regular-season weeks of meetings and practices.

Then, there’s the valuable experiences that comes with the decision-making that is required for a quarterback through running approximately 1,000 offensive plays during the course of a season.

“The team is young and they’re going to continue to grow and evolve and mature in all the other aspects of the team,” Garcia said. “That’s what you were counting on with Jimmy, to be able to take this year, get a full season under his belt playing the position.”

Instead, it will be backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, a third-round draft pick last year, who will have the opportunity to get the bulk of the experiences this season. Beathard takes over in Week 4, beginning with the game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“And now it’s back to square one, back to a young quarterback who was drafted last year and got some games, some starts, which is a positive thing,” Garcia said. “But he’s not the franchise guy, and that’s where so much was put into Jimmy being the guy for many years to come, and now there’s a major setback once again.”

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

49ers' Richard Sherman responds to 'armchair coaches' who wanted tie

Over his nine-year NFL career, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has played for two head coaches: Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan. He doesn't come from the school of Herm Edwards, but the two have one thing in common. 

They play to win the game. 

The 49ers had a chance to settle for a tie in overtime when they fell to the Seahawks, 27-24, on Monday. Sherman saw tweets questioning Shanahan's play-calling at the end of the game, and in a way only the three-time All-Pro know how to, he fired back on Thursday. 

"That's coming from people who don't know ball, if I'm being honest," Sherman said to reporters. "You get to the point where you've got armchair quarterbacks, armchair GMs, armchair coaches like, 'Oh man, I would have done this.' And that's why you're sitting on the couch and not in this sport as a professional.

"You've got people, who don't do this for a living, talking about what they would have done, and it's cool, I guess, for social media chatter. It's great for it there. But as people who play the game, and who put the sacrifice in, who go out there and lay their bodies out on the line, you don't play a tie."

The 49ers had the ball on their own 20-yard line with the score tied and only 1:50 remaining in OT. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw three straight incompletions, and after a Mitch Wishnowsky punt, only 25 seconds ran off the clock. 

Shanahan and his offense had an opportunity to move down the field and improve to 9-0 on the season. They failed, yet still have the best record in the NFC. 

[RELATED: Should 49ers have gone for tie late in overtime loss]

"If you have a chance to drive the ball down the field and try to win the game," Sherman continued, "then I would think everybody would want us to try to win the game. You don't want a tie."

Sherman's right, and the 49ers remain in the driver's seat with seven games to go. 

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

49ers' K'Waun Williams on Pro Bowl ballot after Richard Sherman's plea

Ask and you shall receive. 

Richard Sherman wanted fellow 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams added to the Pro Bowl ballot after San Francisco's nickel corner originally had been left off it.

On Thursday, the NFL obliged.

The 49ers currently have the league's best pass defense according to DVOA, and Williams has been a big reason why. While San Francisco has had to use multiple outside corners due to injury, Williams had provided a consistent, steadying force in the slot. He's totaled 22 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions through 10 games, and opposing quarterbacks have been limited to a 67.6 passer rating when targeting him.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Williams' addition to the ballot, and made it clear he thinks the recognition is deserved.

"He’s earned it," Saleh said, "he’s worked his tail off and he’s been healthy. I think people are starting to recognize how valuable he is in the slot."

Traditionally, nickelbacks have not been included on the Pro Bowl ballot, which partly explains why Williams was left off in the first place. But with the way the league is changing, Saleh thinks the NFL should reconsider how Pro Bowl rosters are constructed.

"You know, I don’t understand the whole system," Saleh added. "I think it’s archaic in terms of the nickel plays a majority of the snaps, but you still have a SAM backer and a fullback. I don’t know how the whole thing works, but I do think slot corner should get a little bit more recognition than they do. I’m pumped for him that he’s getting that."

[RELATED: 49ers' decisions on active players could be made for them]

While Williams' inclusion on the ballot is deserved, San Francisco certainly wouldn't mind if he wasn't able to participate in the actual Pro Bowl. That, of course, is because players participating in the Super Bowl are ineligible to play in the Pro Bowl, which occurs the week prior. If the 49ers reach the final game of the 2019 season, you can be sure Williams played a big role in helping them get there.