Kittle explains why he believes Jimmy G is underappreciated


George Kittle is and always will be Jimmy Garoppolo's No. 1 fan.

The 49ers' All-Pro tight end repeatedly has gone to bat for the veteran quarterback, and this year has defended him against outside criticism more than ever before.

In the latest example, Kittle joined 95.7 The Game's Damon & Ratto on Wednesday afternoon, and speculated as to why Garoppolo has received so much criticism over the past two seasons. He also explained why the quarterback's style of leadership has earned all his teammates' respect. 

“I’ve been defending Jimmy for four years now, and I’m still confused about a lot of [the criticism]," Kittle said. "He goes out there and he wins, and I think he plays at a high level. He’s very good at getting our offense to do what it needs to be successful, and he puts us in a position to win a lot of the time.

"There’s a lot of quarterbacks out there that might struggle with that. But I think maybe because it’s the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy [once] was the highest-paid quarterback in the league, he had a spotlight on him, and people like to drag those people from the spotlight. I think Jimmy has done nothing but a fantastic job of leading us and bouncing back from injuries and dealing with unforeseen circumstances. He’s been nothing but a professional for as long as I've known him. I’ve enjoyed playing with him, and I know everyone else on this team does, too.”


Garoppolo has posted an impressive 30-15 record as the 49ers' starting quarterback since the middle of the 2017 season after being traded from the New England Patriots. In 2019, his first full season as San Francisco's starter, Garoppolo helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and he also has played a big role in the team's potential playoff run this season.

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Garoppolo won't put up eye-popping numbers like the NFL's elite quarterbacks, nor will he be known as a prolific passer. One thing he will do, more often than not, is play well enough to put his team in a position to win.

Garoppolo might not be in such a position this week, as he sustained a Grade 3 thumb sprain in his throwing thumb during San Francisco's Week 16 loss to the Tennessee Titans. That put his status for Sunday's matchup with the Houston Texans very much in doubt.

Not only that, but if the injury sidelines Garoppolo for the final two weeks of the 2021 season and any potential playoff run, his 49ers tenure very well might be over with an increasingly likely trade potentially happening next offseason.

While it remains unclear whether Garoppolo will be healthy enough to play against the Texans, it sounds like his tight end is planning on seeing the veteran under center.

“We have a long time until Sunday, so however Jimmy feels," Kittle said. "Jimmy is a very tough individual, he can play through a lot of things.

"My expectations are that Jimmy will be on the field on Sunday. There’s a lot of time for healing and swelling to go away and for whatever needs to happen to happen. Jimmy’s dealt with a lot, he’s played through a lot, and we’ll just see how the week takes us.”

Whether or not Garoppolo returns to the 49ers this season, he'll always have Kittle's support. 

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