SANTA CLARA — Jimmy Garoppolo completed just six passes in the 49ers' 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, but the fact that he only attempted eight is what is truly remarkable.
The offense put the game on Raheem Mostert’s back, all four touchdowns occurring when the ball was in his hands. Coach Kyle Shanahan called 42 running plays and Garoppolo couldn’t have been happier registering his lowest passing attempt total of the season.
“Got to talk to Kyle or something, man,” Garoppolo joked. “I mean, we were running the hell out of the ball tonight. It made my life very easy back there. I think we had, like, eight pass attempts. A fun night.”
The 49ers had a similar plan of attack facing the Vikings in the NFC divisional-round, running the ball 47 times, but even then Garoppolo had 19 pass attempts. Similar to the divisional-round game, the quarterback said he knew that they were getting a huge opportunity on the ground facing the Packers defense.
“You kind of have a feel for it,” Garoppolo said. “That defense, it’s a feast or famine defense so we got a couple good plays the first time we played them and we thought we had those opportunities but they wanted to take those away and open up the running lanes so it’s just a pick your poison kind of thing.”
The 49ers saw their opportunity with the run game and went in for the kill, gaining 285 yards on the ground. The Packers couldn’t find an answer, allowing a staggering 6.8 yards per carry.
The contributions from all of the skill players on the offense is what makes the 49ers offense so unique. Tight end George Kittle, who is arguably the star of the offense, is happy as a clam with over 40 rushing attempts by his team and gets a thrill out of blocking in the run game.
Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, and Deebo Samuel have all taken turns as lead blocker on run plays along side of the offensive line that has made establishing the run game a priority all season.
"It’s a good group of guys,” Garoppolo said. “With only eight pass attempts, they are no different on the sidelines than when we were in New Orleans throwing the ball all over the place. When you have a group like that it makes it tough to beat and fun to be around.”
Veteran tackle Joe Staley also recognizes the humility of the group and how unique it is. He believes that it can give their offense a distinct advantage.
“There are no egos,” Staley said. “Everybody generally pulls for each other. No one cares about what credit that they get. Jimmy doesn’t care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60? He doesn’t care and same with the running backs.
“Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats. Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win. It is just a special bunch.”
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