49ers

Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo compared self to Aaron Rodgers before draft

Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo compared self to Aaron Rodgers before draft

In Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will line up opposite a QB he compared himself to leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft. 

Before the New England Patriots drafted Garoppolo in the third round (No. 62 overall), NBC Sports Chicago asked the Eastern Illinois product which NFL signal-caller his game most resembled. His answer was Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who will lead the Pack into Santa Clara with a spot in Super Bowl LIV on the line Sunday. 

"I like to think that I'm pretty close in comparison to Aaron Rodgers," Garoppolo told NBC Sports Chicago at the time. "He's a very athletic, just get-the-ball-out-quickly type of quarterback. He's very knowledgeable of the game, controls the offense totally and that's something that I try to do. Just know the offense inside and out, and if you're able to do that as a quarterback, it makes your team that much better."

Garoppolo's early career followed a similar narrative to Rodgers as he, too, was drafted to succeed a legendary quarterback. Neither player became an unquestioned starter until their fourth NFL seasons, but that marked a point of demarcation. 

Whereas Rodgers backed up and ultimately replaced longtime Packers quarterback Brett Favre, Garoppolo backed up Tom Brady before the Patriots traded him to the 49ers ahead of the 2017 trade deadline. Garoppolo will make his 28th career start Sunday, and his second in the postseason. Rodgers' second playoff start, on the other hand, was his 49th in the regular season and postseason. 

Garoppolo's win-loss record through 27 career starts (22-5) is much better than Rodgers' was (13-14). Their production after 27 starts, however, is strikingly similar. 

Courtesy STATS LLC
  Attempts  Completions Percentage Yards Yards/Attempt TD TD% Int Int% Rating
Garoppolo 819 553 67.5 6,865 8.38 43 5.3 22 2.7 99.6
Rodgers 916 590 64.4 7,174 7.83 50 5.5 18 2.0 98.4

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That's not to say Garoppolo is destined to follow Rodgers down the path to eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 49ers' record with Garoppolo over the last three seasons suggests he's surrounded by far more talent than Rodgers was in his first full seasons as the Packers' starter, and the NFL has only become friendlier to quarterbacks in the time between Rodgers' 27th career start in 2009 and Garoppolo's in 2020. 

Still, Garoppolo will try to follow Rodgers in one more respect Sunday. Rodgers made his first -- and only -- Super Bowl appearance in his sixth NFL season and Garoppolo is hoping to extend his sixth campaign with a win over the Packers. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Raheem Mostert's long path from many places to the heart of 49ers lore

Raheem Mostert's long path from many places to the heart of 49ers lore

SANTA CLARA  -- The search for the champion among champions in the 49ers’ locker room Sunday night ended in what many NFL personnel experts surely considered the unlikeliest of places, at the cubicle of a man they never knew and barely saw.

Raheem Mostert spent two years sliding past their eyes and through their fingers before finally being dropped into the gift bag former 49ers coach Chip Kelly would leave behind for the new regime.

Three years and change later, Mostert has etched his name in the NFL record book and become the toast of the 49er Faithful.

With Mostert amassing 220 yards on 29 carries, accounting for 226 of the team’s 358 total yards – and all four of their touchdowns – the 49ers sprinted past the Green Bay Packers and into Super Bowl LVI with a 37-20 victory in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.

Mostert’s brilliance allowed coach Kyle Shanahan bet on a game plan that would not have dared enter the fertile mind of his father, Mike Shanahan, and most certainly not the most revered coach in 75 seasons of 49ers history. Bill Walsh would have frowned at the mention of throwing eight passes in 60 minutes.

Shanahan and his quarterback, Jimmy Garappolo got away with it because Mostert spent the day piercing and dashing through Green Bay’s defense, culminating in the game his life – and, given his perilous path, one he so richly deserved.

“It’s crazy that I’ve been on seven different teams,” he said. “I actually still have the cut dates and I look at that before every game. I look at the cut dates. When I got cut.”

The list of NFL transactions attached on Mostert’s page on the pro-football-reference.com website reads like a 25-chapter book, beginning in May 2015 when the undrafted running back signed with the Eagles, followed by the Dolphins, the Ravens, the Browns, the Jets and the Bears, who dismissed him on Nov. 24, 2016.

Six teams, six heartbreaks, over 18 months. Maybe it was time for Mostert to give up. Go back to Florida, where he was a two-star recruit as a prep wide receiver. Maybe stay home in Cleveland, where his wife has family.

“Not everybody can deal with that type of stress and pain and agony that I went through,” Mostert said. “But I kept the faith in not only myself but whoever gave me the opportunity. This organization has done a great job of that.”

Four days after he was bumped from Chicago, Kelly, who released Mostert in Philly, signed him in San Francisco. Six weeks later, Kelly was fired and Mostert was, um, deeply concerned.

New 49ers general manager John Lynch and Shanahan met with Mostert and promised he’d get a fair chance. He jumped all over that bet.

“They basically told me they believe in me,” Mostert said.

As a special-teams player, yes. As a starting running back, no.

Lynch and Shanahan signed Matt Breida in May. One year later, they spent lavishly (a reported $30 million over four years) to add free agent Jerick McKinnon. They then signed Tevin Coleman last summer to a two-year contract worth a reported $10 million.

When Mostert arrived for training camp six months ago, he was the owner of a three-year contract worth $8.7 million, a valuable member of the special teams – and the No. 4 running back on the depth chart.

Over the course of the season, as McKinnon, Coleman and Breida all dealt with varying degrees of injury-forced inactivity, Shanahan started taking longer looks at Mostert. He still had the 4.4 speed he flashed as a track star at Purdue, and he made a habit of racing past defenders. He finished with 10 touchdowns and a 5.6-yards-per-carry average that was No. 1 among all NFL running backs.

“We do our job, and he turns five-yard runs into house calls,” left tackle Mike McGlinchey said.

Demoralizing Green Bay’s defense with 160 yards on 14 first-half carries, Mostert averaged 7.6 yards per carry in the game. Coleman totaled 21 yards on six carries before leaving with a shoulder injury. Breida carried once, for two yards.

The Packers kept getting Mostert, Mostert and more Mostert.

“I can’t believe I’m in this position right now and that I did the things that I did tonight,” he said.

Guess who is No. 1 now? The guy who sent Aaron Rodgers into the offseason with a performance for the ages.

“That’s an unbelievable thing,” McGlinchey said. “That’s like movie stuff. To be the MVP of the NFL Championship Game and get four touchdowns and put your team in the Super Bowl, that’s pretty cool.”

It’s not as if Mostert is the star who materialized out of nowhere. Rather, he came from just about everywhere.

49ers report card: Grade on offense, defense in win over Packers in NFC Championship Game

49ers report card: Grade on offense, defense in win over Packers in NFC Championship Game

SANTA CLARA – Coach Kyle Shanahan’s final message to his team is that they were going to have to earn it on Sunday.

Just because the 49ers thrashed the Green Bay Packers earlier in the season, it did not mean that a win in the NFC Championship Game would come easy.

It did. But it didn’t.

The 49ers are moving onto Super Bowl LIV with a 37-20 victory over the Packers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

“That's one thing that's really cool about the NFL, nothing's given,” Shanahan said. “And I told the guys how proud I was that they had earned the right to be in a game to play for the Super Bowl. Regardless of what was going to happen, though, and what got us up to this point, that we were going to have to go out today and earn the right to go to the Super Bowl.

“And no one was going to give it to us. Those guys came out with that mindset from the first play on. They were relentless. I know we're going to enjoy tonight. But we're going to be ready to carry it over to Miami, too.”

But, first, let’s take a look at how all the different areas of the 49ers performed in their victory over the Packers:

Rushing offense

What’s the highest-allowable grade? Whatever it is, that’s what the 49ers should get for this performance.

Running back Raheem Mostert rushed for a franchise-record 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 rushing attempts. The offensive line was phenomenal. The 49ers did not even need to throw the ball.

Starter Tevin Coleman went down in the first half with a shoulder injury, and that was a tough blow. Mostert rarely came off the field for the remainder of the game. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel added 43 yards rushing on two attempts.

The 49ers averaged 6.8 yards per rushing attempt. And that includes Jimmy Garoppolo’s three kneeldowns for minus-3 yards to run out the clock at the end.
Grade: A-plus

Passing offense

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo posted a passer rating of 104.7. That’s pretty good, right?

Sure, it's fine. But the crazy thing is that Garoppolo attempted just eight passes in the game -- the fewest pass attempts in championship game history. And Garoppolo was just fine with it.  He completed six of his attempts for 77 yards. Samuel had two catches for 46 yards. And tight end George Kittle had just one reception for 19 yards.

Nobody is complaining about the lack of production from the passing game because the passing game did about all that was asked of it.
Grade: A-minus

Rushing Defense

The 49ers’ run defense did a good enough job against running back Aaron Jones to keep the Packers’ offense in mostly third-and-long situations in the first half. The 49ers raced out to a 27-0 lead after one half.

Jones finished with 56 yards on 12 rushing attempts, but his 4.7-yard average looks a lot better than it was in real life.
Grade: A-minus

Passing Defense

Aaron Rodgers had just 65 yards passing in the first half, as the 49ers bolted to a commanding lead. The Packers had only 42 net yards passing, as Nick Bosa had a sack. K’Waun Williams also came up with sack of a blitz in the first half.

Rodgers ended up with some pretty big numbers. He completed 31 of 39 pass attempts for 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The 49ers certainly gave up more big plays that they would like in the second half.

Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, making the start over Ahkello Witherspoon, had an interception right before halftime that led to a touchdown. And Richard Sherman came up with a pick at the end the game to clinch it.
Grade: B-plus

Special Teams

After a rough start to the season, Robbie Gould and the kicking game is coming on strong at the right time. Gould helped get the 49ers off to a great start when he nailed a 54-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

Gould made all three of his field-goal attempts, including the clincher from 42-yard out with 3:31 remaining.

Richie James provided a big play in the kicking game with a 26-yard return to provide the 49ers with good field position. The 49ers cashed in with a field goal. Mitch Wishnowky had a 38.5 net average with no return yards and one punt downed at the 8-yard line.
Grade: A

Overall

The 49ers played a bunch of down-to-the-wire games to finish the regular season. In comparison, the playoffs have been easy with 17-point victories over the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round and, now, over the Packers.

Shanahan has pushed all the right buttons, including his decision to call for a run play on a third-and-8 situation in a scoreless game in the first quarter. Mostert and the offensive line came through with a 36-yard touchdown run.

The run game certainly led the way, but this was another team effort that leads the 49ers to Miami.
Grade: A