NBC Sports

Maiocco: Jimmy G's hot streak points to improvements around QB

NBC Sports
Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers’ actions in March were a signal the organization felt it would be in better shape in future seasons with someone other than Jimmy Garoppolo.

Still, coach Kyle Shanahan placed a lot of trust in Garoppolo to remain as the starter this season while his replacement was being groomed behind the scenes.

That stance was critiqued and criticized through the 49ers’ first eight games, as they staggered to a 3-5 record.

Now, Garoppolo is making Shanahan look brilliant — while playing well enough to make people wonder if the 49ers’ decision to invest heavily in a young quarterback was the wise move.

The 49ers have followed a stretch of five losses in six games with a sequence in which they have won five of six and sit in the No. 6 spot in the NFC playoff picture.

Over the past six games, Garoppolo’s 110.2 passer rating is second in the NFL behind only Aaron Rodgers. Garoppolo is averaging an NFL-best 8.48 yards per pass attempt on the season.

Earlier in the season, Shanahan quickly dismissed all suggestions Garoppolo’s play warranted a benching in favor of rookie Trey Lance.

Now, the results support what Shanahan said he believed all along.

“Jimmy hasn't been much different to me all year,” Shanahan said. “I think we've gotten better around him throughout the year. I think we've gotten more continuity on the offense.”

Tight end George Kittle was not healthy earlier in the season and went on injured reserve with a calf injury. He returned healthy and, not coincidentally, the 49ers got hot shortly thereafter.

 

Deebo Samuel, a 1,000-yard receiver, found success as a dual-threat option with rushing touchdowns in five consecutive games.

And wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk got going after Shanahan brought out the verbal jumper cables to get him going.

“When you get to string weeks together from a quarterback and some of the guys you're throwing to, I think you usually improve, and you just get more consistent,” Shanahan said.

The season started with Shanahan planning on deploying Garoppolo as the starter and Lance as a change-of-pace quarterback.

Shanahan soon determined utilizing two quarterbacks created more issues for him as the play-caller than it did for opposing defenses.

That was all part of the process for an offense that is executing better behind a quarterback who is playing at a level that is sure to attract some suitors in the offseason.

The 49ers remain confident that multiple teams will be interested in acquiring Garoppolo in the offseason, sources tell NBC Sports Bay Area.

But that is a conversation for the future. And just like the 49ers’ offense this season, things are always evolving.

RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in pivotal win over Falcons

That has been the case for Garoppolo and his supporting cast. The 49ers have largely figured things out, and they believe there is more room to grow.

“Our offense has changed a lot since the beginning of the season run game, pass game, everything has,” Garoppolo said. “That's what good offenses do. That's what good teams do, you adapt as the season goes.”

 Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast