GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some relationships take a time to flourish but that is not the case with Jimmy Garoppolo and Emmanuel Sanders, who have immediately gotten in sync in just nine days.
The most impressive display of their instant chemistry happened midway through the third quarter of the 49ers' 28-25 win over the Cardinals on Thursday when San Francisco's offense had a third-and-4 situation. Garoppolo took the snap from the shotgun and as the pocket began to close, he delivered a pass to Sanders who caught it just as he was coming out of his break and looking for the ball.
“Yeah, what a throw by Jimmy,” Sanders said. “It was one of those throws that, obviously I made the play, but I couldn’t even take the credit. I couldn’t even pound my chest. I just had to point at Jimmy because that was definitely a ‘Dilfer Dime’
"It was just so easy. Literally, I turned my head and the ball fell in my lap. Jimmy was on fire tonight.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan is normally pretty non-plussed by individual plays as a result of his high expectations, but even he made note of the connection between his quarterback and newly acquired wide receiver.
“Yeah, that one towards the sideline,” Shanahan said. “I was right by it. He had to push a little bit extra on it for depth just to get away from Patrick [Peterson]. Jimmy let it go early. I had a clean view of it. I didn’t think he was going to get his head around and right when he did, it hit him right in the chest, it was impressive, by both of them.”
Garoppolo finished the night completing 28 of his 37 targets for 317 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers. His performance gave him a 136.9 rating and the best statistical night of his career.
Sanders led the team in receiving, catching seven of his nine targets for 112 yards and his second touchdown in as many games. In just over a week, Garoppolo has learned how to read and trust his new receiver.
“Just his body language on routes,” Garoppolo said. “I can kind of anticipate what he’s going to do and I think we got room for improvement but I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.”
Shanahan knew that Sanders would immediately help Garoppolo and the offense be more productive but noted that the receiver has performed beyond his initial prediction.
“When you’re watching him, you always know he’s a pro,” Shanahan said. “He’s even been better than expected since he’s been here with how unbelievably smart he’s been in picking up the offense and going out there that much, especially here on a short week. That game would have been real tough without him.”
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Garoppolo was equally effusive in his compliments towards Sanders. The two have put in some extra time on the field together building their chemistry but their ability to have it immediately translate on the field is not ordinary.
“He’s savvy,” Garoppolo said. “He knows what to do, feels space when it’s zone and he beats the guy when it’s man. It’s a nice combination. He’s so smart that he just does things, that as a quarterback, you love to see and it makes it easy on you to throw the ball to him.”