49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo connects with 49ers fan for souvenir from Seahawks win

Jimmy Garoppolo connects with 49ers fan for souvenir from Seahawks win

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo never has been more accurate in his six-year NFL career than in the 49ers’ memorable Week 17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

And one throw -- the lowest-percentage attempt all day -- stands out in particular. After all, he threw it into a hive of Seahawks jerseys.

Officially, Garoppolo completed 18 of 22 passes in the 49ers’ 26-21 victory, which clinched the NFC West championship.

But Garoppolo’s deep pass had nothing to do with the win. In fact, he fired one last throw because, well, he was so fired up that the 49ers had clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs against the team’s biggest rival.

The normally humble Garoppolo barely could suppress his pride for connecting with an intended target in the tightest of windows. His final pass of the day ended up in good hands -- a fact he did not find out until four days later.

“That’s a good throw, then,” Garoppolo said, laughing.

Matt Pinelli, 19, of San Jose traveled to Seattle with a group of 17 that included the family of his girlfriend, Lauren Haniger. The pocket of 49ers fans were seated in the lower level, near the goal line, where Garoppolo took the final snap and plowed forward on a quarterback sneak to run out the clock.

Garoppolo had the ball in his hands as the final nine seconds ran off the clock. He figured he'd just hand the ball back to referee Tony Corrente. He waited 15 seconds after the clock ran out before acting.

“I looked for the ref initially, but no one was around me,” Garoppolo said. “So I was like ... I’m just going to throw this thing.”

As soon as Garoppolo let it fly, he turned to 49ers staff member Mike Chasanoff, who handed Garoppolo a black 49ers beanie to wear during his postgame interview on the field with Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports. Garoppolo did not follow the flight of the ball to see what happened.

Meanwhile, in Section 105, Row Y ...

“I was actually on my phone and I didn’t even know what was happening,” Pinelli said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I was texting my friends, saying how awesome the game was. And a bunch of Seahawks fans had their backs to field, walking up.

“I looked up from my phone to see the ball just coming towards me, like a row over. So once I saw it, I got into the aisle, and I had to push a Seahawks fan over and I jumped on the ball.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6t_abnJ3TK/

After securing the football, Pinelli shoved it under his shirt for safe-keeping.

Then, he began to consider the historical significance of the ball. Because the 49ers-Seahawks game was flexed into "Sunday Night Football," it was the final ball used in a regular-season game this season, this decade and in the first 100 years of the NFL.

Pinelli said he would like to get the ball autographed and framed as a keepsake from, perhaps, the most significant regular-season game in 49ers history.

Garoppolo said he “definitely” would sign the ball for Pinelli. He was just glad it ended up safely in a 49ers fan's hands.

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“I got home and I told my mom, ‘Yeah, I threw it in the stands,’ ” Garoppolo said. “She’s like, ‘Did you hit someone?’ I said, ‘I have no idea if I hit anyone.’ ”

Now, he knows. And it gives him one last thing to remember fondly about Week 17 in Seattle.

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

It has been two weeks since the 49ers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That’s more than enough time to turn the page and look ahead.

So that’s what we’re doing -- with the help from some of our Twitter friends. Here is the first offseason edition of the 49ers Mailbag.

Kyle Shanahan is one of the best play-callers in the NFL. I don’t think there’s even a question about that. Is there? So I can’t envision any scenario in which Shanahan stops doing the thing he does best.

Shanahan certainly believes McDaniel and LaFleur are ready to call plays. McDaniel and LaFleur are, in essence, co-offensive coordinators. They are responsible for putting together the first components of the weekly game plan.

Through the first three seasons together with the 49ers, they have found a pretty good rhythm together and Shanahan finds himself placing more trust in them. What they’re doing is working.

If the 49ers have the $19 million-plus in cap room to devote to a franchise tag for Arik Armstead, then I think they could work out a long-term deal that would work for both sides.

As for the question about a tag-and-trade, I’m sure you’re thinking about how the Kansas City Chiefs tagged Dee Ford a year ago and, then, traded him to the 49ers. In that instance, the Chiefs had Frank Clark on the line, so that made sense.

In this case, I don’t think there’s anyone who plays Armstead’s position they would prefer over him. Armstead is exactly what the 49ers need: A defensive end on base downs who moves inside next to DeForest Buckner to rush the passer in nickel situations.

There is no need for the 49ers to do anything with Thomas, except work with him to continue to improve and become more valuable as a rotational player on the defensive line. The 49ers certainly will not pick up the fifth-year option on Thomas for the 2021 season. But with Thomas’ rookie contract guaranteed, there is no cap advantage in parting ways with him this year.

Regardless, Thomas should have a significant role next season. But if for whatever reason Armstead is not back, Thomas has a strong chance to be a starter.

The possibility of recouping a draft pick is part of the reason the 49ers felt compelled to make the trade in the first place. In my opinion, they would have preferred Mohamed Sanu, who was under contract through the 2020 season. But the Patriots offered the Atlanta Falcons a second-round draft pick, and the 49ers did not have a second-round pick after dealing it to Kansas City for Dee Ford.

Instead, the 49ers acquired Sanders and a fifth-round pick from Denver in return for third- and fourth-round draft picks. The 49ers do not figure to be active with veteran acquisitions on the free-agent market this offseason, so it is likely the 49ers have more losses than gains. If Sanders is a loss, the 49ers would stand a good chance of picking up a compensatory pick for the 2021 draft.

Get stronger. Work. Work. Work.

Pettis had a good offseason program a year ago, but he was not the same player when he came back for training camp. Other receivers on the team came back stronger at the opening of camp. Pettis did not. That is why Pettis struggled and fell out of favor to the point he rarely played in the second half of the season.

Pettis needs to take it up another few notches to get stronger and avoid the nagging injuries that also set him back last season. Pettis has more ability than almost anyone on the team to run some of Shanahan’s favorite routes. He will have an opportunity to prove himself in the offseason and training camp this year.

If Jalen Hurd and Pettis are both healthy, I think the answer is Hurd. The reason is because of his size and his unique skill set.

I envision Hurd being a big part of the 49ers’ two-minute offense because of his versatility. The 49ers can line him up anywhere in the formation, including running back. That puts the onus on the defense to figure out how they want to treat him. Is he a runner, wide receiver or tight end? Then, based on the defensive personnel, the 49ers can exploit those weaknesses.

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The draft takes place more than a month after free agency. So the answer to this question could change, based on what the 49ers’ roster looks like at the time of the draft. But, right now, if the 49ers hold onto the No. 31 overall pick, the team can choose among the best available wide receiver, cornerback or defensive lineman.

There are two ways to look at this. But if there’s a team willing to move up to No. 31 overall, then that is the default move. It would make a lot of sense to sit out the first round of the draft to come away with multiple picks on Day 2.

But if there is someone at No. 31 with whom the organization has fallen in love, then they should take that player. The advantage of holding onto the first-round draft pick is that the 49ers would control the contract rights to the player for five years, instead of four.

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

Losing the Super Bowl was tough on the 49ers, to say the least. It was especially tough for the team's fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, who hated hearing the criticism of Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan, his quarterback and coach.

"Those are two guys that have absolutely nothing to prove to the rest of the guys in the locker room," Juice said Friday on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football." "You look at Jimmy, for people that are stats guys, 4,000 yards passing, better than a two-to-one, touchdown-interception ratio, 70 percent completion."

He added with that alone, you're looking at a "phenomenal quarterback."

"For whatever reason, Jimmy just gets this extra criticism, this extra heat, but I think at one point in the game he was like 19-for-22," Jusczyk said. 

"That's football, though -- you just change one or two plays in the game, and the whole dialogue changes, the whole narrative."

Juice mentioned the moment that could have put Jimmy G in the same category as Tom Brady as a Super Bowl MVP. The moment that could have led to the 49ers popping champagne in San Francisco amongst the faithful.

That could have been a game-changer.

The play in question caused wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to storm out of the media room following the Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs. Garoppolo's overthrow in the fourth quarter changed everything.

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And they know it. Jimmy knows it. Sanders knows it. Shanahan knows it. 

"It's a shame that one or two plays can really change everyone's outlook on someone," Juszczyk said.