CINCINNATI -- Jimmy Garoppolo’s three touchdown passes weren't the only part of Sunday's game building the 49ers quarterback’s confidence.
An effective game plan and better execution helped the 49ers put up 572 yards of offense in a 41-17 win over the Bengals, with Garoppolo completing 17 of 25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. What didn't show up on the stat sheet, however, were little things such as Garoppolo stepping up into the pocket and taking a hit just as he got the ball away for a completion.
That’s what happened in the first play of the third quarter, as Garoppolo dropped back and, with the pocket closing, delivered a deep ball to rookie receiver Deebo Samuel for 39 yards. It was the start of a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the 49ers a 21-point lead.
Garoppolo explained that it’s a good way for him to build confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
“Yeah, it’s good to get hit, I guess,” Garoppolo said. “It sounds weird to say, but yeah.”
Garoppolo added that just getting more snaps and being able to find a rhythm over the last two games also has helped.
“I think it’s just moving in the right direction,” Gaoprpolo said. “Each game, you try to improve, keep getting better, each practice, same way. So I think it’s coming along, and there’s still things to clean up -- stupid interception today -- but a lot of positives came out of it.”
Garoppolo avoided injury on a head-first, third-down dive midway through the first quarter. Any sort of scramble without an injury also can be seen as a confidence-booster after Garoppolo's season-ending scramble in Week 3 last year.
The QB didn't slide on that 2018 play, and he explained why he didn’t on Sunday's, either.
"I knew it was third down," Garoppolo said. "Kind of looked at the marker, so I was running, and I thought I had to go head first. When you go feet first, they usually mark you a little short, so I didn’t want to risk that. It was good."
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49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes that not only more snaps but a balanced game, where the team is successful rushing the ball, will help Garoppolo’s confidence rise. Sunday's game plan included moving the ball on the ground to reduce the pressure on Garoppolo to throw, and the 49ers delivered with 259 yards on 42 carries -- a 6.2-yard average.
"Everybody knows the ability Jimmy has, and he's shown it," Shanahan said. "It’s not just about a guy with talent. It's a guy who has talent [and] who has played in games and shown everyone he can play at a high level. The more he’s out there, I truly believe the better he will get, even when he does make mistakes, as long as he learns from them."