49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo's stats vs. playoff teams show he's ready for Vikings

Jimmy Garoppolo's stats vs. playoff teams show he's ready for Vikings

Jimmy Garoppolo answered plenty of questions this season. Coming off a torn ACL, he led the 49ers to an NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. He also produced one of the best statistical seasons ever for a QB in franchise history. 

The playoffs are a whole different ballgame, though. 

Garoppolo is a two-time Super Bowl champion, but he won those rings as Tom Brady's backup with the New England Patriots. The 49ers QB hasn't taken one snap in the playoffs over his six-year career. That will change Saturday when San Francisco faces the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium in the divisional round. 

There are plenty of reasons to believe in Garoppolo as he makes his playoff debut -- just look at his numbers against teams that made it to the playoffs this season. As Niners Nation's Rob Lowder points out, Jimmy G has been pretty, pretty good against four teams that made it to the postseason. 

Garoppolo nearly was flawless in the 49ers' Week 17 win over the Seahawks, to win the division. He didn't throw a touchdown -- or an interception for that matter -- but he did complete 18 of 22 pass attempts for 285 yards. His passer rating was 118.8.

The Vikings certainly will be a tough task to conquer as well. Minnesota stymied Drew Brees last week, intercepting the future Hall of Famer and recovered a key fumble they forced against the 13-time Pro Bowler. 

In the 49ers' five games against playoff teams this season, they went 3-2. But their two losses -- Week 10 against the Seahawks and Week 13 at Baltimore -- both ended on last-second field goals. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan knows firsthand that the playoffs have a different feel to them. He also believes the 49ers' handful of close games this season will pay dividends for Garoppolo and the rest of the squad. 

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“I feel like last week was a playoff game,” Shanahan said Tuesday. “That was pretty intense, or whenever we played Seattle. I think he has shown that he can handle himself with poise." 

When the going got tough in the regular season, Garoppolo was at his best. The 49ers believe he can do the same Saturday, and the QB has the numbers to back up those feelings.

NFL Draft 2020: Laviska Shenault compares self to 49ers' Deebo Samuel

NFL Draft 2020: Laviska Shenault compares self to 49ers' Deebo Samuel

INDIANAPOLIS -- Laviska Shenault Jr. is near the top of what is widely viewed as a deep and talented pool of wide receivers in this year’s NFL draft.

The 49ers are certain to like what they see the versatile Colorado wide receiver, and Shenault definitely is intrigued by the possibilities he sees with being a member of the 49ers. But they are unlikely to ever get a chance to select Shenault.

There will be some changes at the 49ers' wide receiver group, but the 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick and have just one selection within the first four rounds.

When asked at the NFL Scouting Combine which pro offenses he most admires, Shenault immediately identified the 49ers.

“I think there's a couple of teams, but I'd say most definitely the 49ers because with Deebo Samuel, they moved him around everywhere and just created mismatches and tried to get him the ball in different positions,” Shenault said.

Shenault is similar to Samuel with his size, strength and versatility. Samuel is 5-foot-11, 214 pounds. Shenault measured at 6-foot-and-5/8, 227 pounds. Like Samuel, Shenault turns into a running back with the ball in his hands.

In his three-season, 27-game college career, Shenault caught 149 passes for 1,943 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing 42 times for 280 yards and seven touchdowns.

Shenault said he liked to watch how the 49ers lined up Samuel in a lot of different spots. And Samuel was his answer when asked to which NFL wide receiver he is most similar.

“Deebo Samuel definitely did a lot of moving around and just getting the ball in different places,” Shenault said.

[RELATED: 49ers should watch these receivers during the combine

The 49ers selected Samuel in the second round with the No. 36 overall selection a year ago. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. He also carried 14 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Samuel set a Super Bowl record for receivers with three carries for 53 yards.

That’s how Shenault believes he can make an immediate impact in the NFL.

“I think my versatility is a good thing,” Shenault said. “I don't want to be in one spot. Then, I wouldn't get that many balls or attempts. I want to be able to move everywhere. I want to be able to create mismatches everywhere on the field.”

Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'

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Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kyle Shanahan answered countless questions about losing to the New England Patriots with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers coach lost again after all the questions, this time to the Kansas City Chiefs. He's grieving all over again and having a more difficult time reconciling this time around. 

“I think this one was harder than the last one,” Shanahan said Tuesday from the NFL Scouting Combine. “The last one was a bigger loss, I mean at the end and stuff. I just thought we were a better team. The hardest thing for me is I thought we were the best team in the NFL.

“And when you really believe that, and I thought it for a while, it wasn’t just like the last couple weeks of the year. In Atlanta, we kind of got hot at the end of the year, so I felt pretty fortunate.”

Shanahan's 2016 Falcons and his 2019 49ers entered the playoffs with a first-round bye.  The difference is that the 49ers started the 2019 season with an 8-0 run, and finished with a 13-3 regular-season record, clinching the No. 1 seed.

The 2016 Falcons, however, had a 5-3 record at the halfway point. Atlanta won its last four straight games to clinch the No. 2 seed, but played two playoff home games only because the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys lost in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers. 

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The 49ers have come a long way under Shanahan. They had a fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl after winning the 10 games the previous two seasons, but it's difficult to focus on the journey following a painful ending. 

“This year I thought we had it,” Shanahan said. “We were the second-worst team in the league last year, and now we got to live with being the second-best, which I’m proud of. But that is harder, because I truly believe it was there for us.”