Sunday should have been Jimmy Garoppolo's day. Facing a Seattle Seahawks secondary that had been torched by every quarterback it has faced this season, Garoppolo was, in theory, primed for a big day in a must-win game for the 49ers.
Garoppolo was ineffective Sunday at CenturyLink Field, going 11-for-16 for 84 yards and an interception before being removed in the second half after re-injuring his ankle as the 49ers fell 37-27 in a game that wasn't that close.
49ers legend Jerry Rice was disappointed in Garoppolo's performance, and doesn't believe the quarterback should have been on the field in the first place if he was hobbled.
"I think what we saw yesterday is a guy that's not healthy," Rice told 95.7 The Game's "The Morning Roast." "If you're going to hurt the team then you shouldn't be on that football field. Yeah, Nick Mullens he came in and it was towards the end, I think the game was like 30-7 and during a situation like that you aren't going to see the most sophisticated defensive looks. But still he was able to go 18-for-25, 238 yards and two touchdowns.
"Jimmy is not driving the ball down field. You watch when he throws the ball, his back foot it comes up off the ground. You got to be able to plant the foot and drive and throw that ball with velocity down the field. I don't think he's healthy and it's going to be up to Kyle Shanahan to make that decision."
Garoppolo normally thrives throwing the ball in the middle for the field, the same area the Seahawks' defense has been getting picked apart during the first seven weeks. But he missed some easy throws early on that stymied the 49ers' offensive momentum and then he was unable to beat Seattle's pressure once the Seahawks started blitzing near halftime.
Shanahan said that Garoppolo had a good week of practice and was healthy, but tweaked his ankle in the second half. Garoppolo missed two games earlier this season with a high ankle sprain. He came back in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins but was benched at halftime after being ineffective due to the ankle.
The 49ers have a short week as they'll turn around and face the Green Bay Packers on "Thursday Night Football." At 4-4, the 49ers still are in the playoff hunt but need Garoppolo to be an effective trigger man in order to stay afloat in the wild-card race.
With the number of injuries they have sustained this season, the 49ers need Garoppolo to carry a heavier load than he was asked to last season. Injury or not, Garoppolo has been unable to elevate his game this season and the 49ers have struggled because of it.