Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo ranks as 15th-best quarterback in NFL

Why 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo ranks as 15th-best quarterback in NFL

Jimmy Garoppolo once again is just behind Tom Brady, but we’re not looking at the New England Patriots’ depth chart from 2016.

Instead, NFL.com ranked all the signal-callers who started a game in 2019, and the 49ers’ quarterback ended up ranked just one spot behind the six-time Super Bowl champion Brady.

Garoppolo checks in at No. 15 overall, with former Bay Area resident and Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr one spot behind him.

While Jimmy G’s numbers don’t jump out at first glance, the 28-year-old was tied for fifth among all QBs in touchdown passes (27), third in yards per attempt (8.3) and tied for fourth in completion percentage (69.1) last season.

San Francisco won 13 games in the regular season and was the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, eventually earning a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

But the difference between Garoppolo and many of the quarterbacks above him is that those offenses revolved around and relied upon the passing game to be successful.

Outside of the freight train that was the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens' offense, the 49ers had the best rushing offense in the NFL. The three-headed monster of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida wreaked havoc on defenses, with all three topping 500 yards on the ground.

Kyle Shanahan and the Niners’ offense didn’t need to throw frequently, and they didn’t. Never was that concept more evident than in the NFC Championship Game, which saw San Francisco manhandle the Green Bay Packers, rushing for 285 yards while Jimmy G attempted just eight passes.

Then there was the performance in that Super Bowl. Through one half, it wasn’t an outlandish take to say Garoppolo had outshined eventual Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes through two-and-a-half quarters. 

But once the Kansas City Chiefs' transcendent quarterback began rallying his team back, Jimmy G did not rise to the occasion.

He completed just three of 11 passes for 36 yards and an interception as the world saw a 10-point lead evaporate and the Chiefs roared back to win 31-20 at Hard Rock Stadium.

[RELATED: Five massive decisions that could define 49ers' offseason]

All that being said, this ranking feels about right for Garoppolo. He’s a unique case in that he’s 28 yet only has 26 professional starts under his belt. For reference, Mahomes is 24 and already has 31 NFL starts to his name.

Are we 100 percent certain the Niners have found a franchise quarterback? Maybe not, but San Francisco is in a heck of a lot better spot at the league’s most important position than at least half of the other NFL teams.

49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

49ers' Kendrick Bourne implores Matt Breida to re-sign for 2020 season

Kendrick Bourne wants Matt Breida to follow in his footsteps.

The 49ers wide receiver signed his one-year tender Monday, ensuring he would return for the 2020 season. San Francisco placed second-round tenders on Bourne and Breida last month, and Bourne encouraged Breida to sign his, too.

Bourne and Breida joined the 49ers as undrafted free agents in 2017. The 24-year-old receiver scored a career-high five touchdowns in the 2019 regular season and caught 30 passes for 358 yards.

[RELATED: Why Jeudy could be just what 49ers want in 2020 NFL Draft]

Breida, meanwhile, largely lost his role in the 49ers offense by the end of the 2019 season. He ran a career-high 153 times for 814 yards in 2018, but Breida ran for nearly 200 fewer yards in 2019 as the running back ended the season behind Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman on the 49ers’ depth chart. Jerick McKinnon’s return could further crowd Breida out.

Bourne has been with Breida every step of their NFL careers, however, and he wants the running back to once again be his teammate this season.

2020 NFL Draft profile: Why Alabama's Jerry Jeudy is what 49ers need

2020 NFL Draft profile: Why Alabama's Jerry Jeudy is what 49ers need

Editor's Note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might be good fits, along with some hidden gems in the later rounds. In this installment, we profile Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Top NFL draft prospect Jerry Jeudy could be exactly what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has been looking for. 

Shanahan has remained steadfast in his belief that you don’t have to be the biggest or fastest wide receiver to be the most effective and productive. There are several other qualities that remain higher on Shanahan’s list, and it appears that Jeudy checks most, if not all, of those boxes. 

Michael Locksley, Jeudy’s coach and offensive coordinator during the receiver's first two seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide, spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about the receiver’s unique talents.

[RELATED: Latest Mock: 49ers don't get Jeudy]

“Can’t say enough about his ability as a route-runner,” Locksley said. “I think with Jerry, it’s his ability and suddenness he has to get in and out of a break, whether it’s working back toward the ball which is the toughest breaks that receivers make, when they’re working back toward the quarterback.

“He has the ability to be full speed and drop his weight – or, as we say, sink his hips -- to stop on a dime, and he always gives the illusion of speed always at the top of the route but is able, without taking the little small steps you see people normally have to take to put his foot in the ground and change direction.”

Listen and subscribe to the 49ers Insider Podcast:

Leigh Steinberg of Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, who represents Jeudy, was equally impressed by his client’s route running. 

“He might be the best route runner that I’ve ever seen in college in my 40 years,” Steinberg told NBC Sport Bay Area. “He runs the most precise routes. He’s also very smart.” 

With precise route running and the ability to change direction on a dime, Jeudy is able to get separation, which Shanahan has repeatedly said is one of the most important aspects to being a receiver. 

Another trait that Shanahan looks for was exemplified by All-Pro tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel throughout 2019: Gaining yards after the catch. 

“Tremendous run-after catch ability,” Locksley said of the Alabama receiver. “He is such a loose-limbed, loose-body guy. You watch him and his ability to make people miss is as good as I’ve ever seen.”

Steinberg noted that Jeudy has impressed him off the field as well, most notably when the Alabama star met Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice while in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. 

“The most impressive thing I’ve seen from him was how he interacted with Hall of Fame receivers while in Miami for the Super Bowl,” Steinberg said. “He asked Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter what their secrets to longevity were. He’s bright enough to use his time with the best, to enhance his own performance.”

[RELATED: Simms: Jeudy not loved by all teams]

Jeudy was extremely productive in his three seasons at Alabama, catching 159 passes for 2,742 yards, 26 touchdowns and an average of 17.2 yards per catch. It is inevitable that he is a player that will have an impact on a team's offense. What the 49ers will do with the No. 13 overall selection in the draft, however, is much less certain.

NFL draft profile: Jerry Jeudy

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 193 pounds
College: Alabama
Career stats: 159 catches for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns

Combine measurables
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds (11th among wide receiver class)
Vertical jump: 35.0 inches
Broad jump: 120.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.53 seconds

What experts are saying
Mel Kiper, ESPN: “Jerry Jeudy is a precise kid, running routes, first out of his break. Reminds me a lot of Marvin Harrison.”
Todd McShay, ESPN: “I think he’s one of the best five players in the entire draft.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: "Bama WR Jerry Jeudy = smooth operator. He’s such an easy mover. Reminds me a little of Robert Woods coming out of USC. Same frame, same understanding/instincts."
Josh Norris, NBC Sports: "I know it’s easy to compare players from the same school, but it’s easy to see Calvin Ridley in Jerry Jeudy’s game."

Projected round: First (top 15 overall)