Jimmy Garoppolo's success comes scripted and unscripted

Jimmy Garoppolo's success comes scripted and unscripted

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday took his first look at the 49ers’ offensive game plan for this week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

He had some questions.

“I came in and you hear terms for the first time that I’m like ‘What’s that formation?’ They have to explain it to me,” Garoppolo said. “That’s what’s different than the three years prior to this. In New England, you come in and you pretty much know what was going on. It’s becoming more and more routine I guess, getting the new information and kind of the process of breaking it all down now.”

Garoppolo spent his first 3 1/2 seasons with the Patriots before arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 in a trade.

There will be plenty for Garoppolo to learn during the offseason program. But he is slowly gaining more knowledge of Kyle Shanahan’s system after being exposed to seven unique game plans, including the final five of the season that have been tailored specifically for him as the starter.

“I think he gets more of a feel of what we’re doing and we start to get more of a feel of what he’s comfortable with,” Shanahan said. “You start to put a little bit more in of what you’ve had success with and it branches off. If you’ve had success with certain things, you can’t put in the exact same stuff because that’s all teams are practicing.

“You start to do some things off of that, but it’s allowed Jimmy to grow to where, ‘Hey, remember this play versus Chicago and why it worked? We’re going to do something similar to that this week, but this is the adjustment we’re going to make.’ There’s a little more foundation for him.”

While Garoppolo’s ability to carry out a plan has resulted in a vastly improved 49ers offense, it’s his ability to improvise that has perhaps been his most impressive trait. There is only so much preparation that can take place after any given play veers off course, and that's where Garoppolo has excelled.

“The off-schedule stuff, it’s called off-schedule because you can’t really plan for that stuff,” Garoppolo said.

“I think it’s organic,” Shanahan said. “The main thing we stress is guys just to keep working. . . . Never stop and just watch the play. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

“I don’t like practicing a lot or putting in plays that don’t get people open so you have to worry about doing that. We’ve had a number of times in this last month where he’s made some off-schedule plays. And the more it happens, guys start to believe in it and the more guys start working to do it.”

One example in which Garoppolo demonstrated his ability to quickly get on the same unwritten page as a receiver came on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

On a third-and-goal situation from the 5, the Jaguars dropped eight defenders into coverage. Garoppolo could not find anyone open, so he moved out of the pocket and ran to his left, parallel to the line of scrimmage to buy time.

Then, as nickel back Aaron Colvin left his coverage responsibilities to close in on Garoppolo from the front -- and with defensive lineman Calais Campbell pursuing from the side -- Garoppolo snapped a sidearm toss around Colvin to Trent Taylor for the unscripted touchdown.

As much as Garoppolo's ability to get the ball to Taylor was notable, the quarterback gave a great deal of credit to the rookie wideout for finding a way to help Garoppolo find him.

“Just the savviness for him to have as a rookie,” Garoppolo said. “I haven’t seen many guys with it. He did kind of a circle in the end zone and it got him open. The defender froze his feet and he made a tremendous catch. I didn’t really see it, but I saw it on film and that was a great catch.”

Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season


Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season

With the 146th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected...

George Kittle.

The tight end from Iowa had a solid rookie season -- racking up 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, Greg Cosell of NFL Films was talking about Kyle Shanahan and Rams head coach Sean McVay. And then unsolicited, pivoted the conversation to Kittle.

"You know, I think one player we should mention who I really liked coming out of college -- and I know he fought some injuries last year but I think that he has a chance to be a really meaningul part of this offense -- and that's George Kittle," Cosell said. "I think George Kittle is a really good tight end who can do a lot of things.

"He can line up and be a really good blocking tight end -- and obviously we know that Kyle's offense does start with the run game. I think he's more athletic than people probably give him credit for.

"I remember studying him coming out of Iowa and looking at some of his Combine measureables -- some were superior to those of OJ Howard from Alabama, and I think people would be surprised by that.

"In this offense he might not catch 80 balls, but he might average 14-15 yards a catch, and for a tight end that's pretty darn good."

Kittle had his best game in the season finale -- four catches for 100 yards at the Rams.

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'


Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”