Drew Brees

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absurdly ranked behind Jared Goff in QB survey

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo absurdly ranked behind Jared Goff in QB survey

If you're continually mystified as to how superior quarterbacks often get drafted behind ones who turn out to be obviously worse, look no further than The Athletic's recent QB tier survey.

Mitch Trubisky was taken ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017. Four quarterbacks were selected ahead of Lamar Jackson the following year. Russell Wilson was the sixth QB taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, well behind flameouts like Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler.

Yes, quarterback evaluation is by no means an exact science, but just based on that list, it's quite obvious evaluators have not adequately adjusted to the modern game.

That might explain why the 50 NFL coaches and evaluators -- many of whom were guilty of those exact errors -- ridiculously ranked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo where they did.

It's not so much the Tier 3 ranking that is absurd; it's the company he was placed with -- and ranked behind.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Garoppolo was ranked as the 17th-best QB in the survey, which is filled with ignorant criticisms that don't line up with reality.

"Can he strap it on his back and win it if he has to? I don’t know if he is that, either," said one rival NFC West coach.

I'm guessing that person isn't a coach for the Arizona Cardinals, who lost two close games to San Francisco last year in large part to Garoppolo's ability to pick the defense apart with his arm. Over the two games -- which essentially were decided by a combined six points -- Jimmy G threw for 741 yards and eight touchdowns.

Not satisfied? Throw on the tape of the game in New Orleans, where Garoppolo went head-to-head with Drew Brees (ranked in Tier 1) and the Saints in arguably the toughest road environment in the league and threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns with a passer rating of 131.7 in a 48-46 shootout win. That victory ultimately gave the 49ers home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

"He does some good things with a good cast," remarked one executive. "You worry about the deep ball, the consistent accuracy, but he’s not bad."

Let's go to the stats, shall we?

Garoppolo literally was the most accurate deep-ball passer in the NFL last season. His completion percentage (69.1 percent) was tied for fourth-best in the league, and of the QBs that completed a higher rate, only one played all 16 games and attempted more passes.

Also, it's interesting that Garoppolo's supporting cast is held against him, whereas QBs on other great teams aren't similarly downgraded.

Jimmy G was just ranked as the No. 43 overall player in the NFL by his peers. Ranking him as the 17th-best quarterback just goes to show how disconnected many evaluators are from the reality of what takes place on the field.

Of all the slander thrown Garoppolo's way in that survey, however, the most egregious example by far is the collection of inferior QBs included in his same tier, and in one particular case, ranked ahead of him.

Here are some names those same evaluators included in Tier 3 (in order): Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones and Nick Foles.

Granted, Jimmy G is ranked above all of them within the tier, but to place him within that same grouping is quite insulting.

Not as insulting, however, as being ranked behind Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Yes, you read that correctly. 50 NFL coaches and evaluators combined to rank Goff ahead of Jimmy G.

The only logical explanation is that they got confused by the initials, because there is nothing you could point to from last season that suggests Goff is in the same neighborhood as Garoppolo, much less superior to him.

Completion percentage. Yards per completion. Touchdowns. Interceptions. Quarterback rating. Garoppolo was better than Goff in every single one of those categories last season, and in several cases, not by a slim margin. Experience doesn't work in Goff's favor, either, as he has started more than twice as many games as Jimmy G has throughout their respective careers.

[RELATED: Sherman expects Jimmy G to be Pro Bowl QB in 2020 season]

Ultimately, it doesn't matter where Garoppolo was ranked within his position by those coaches and evaluators. The guy who went 13-3 last season and has a 21-5 record as a starter likely will keep on doing what he does best: Win.

And, if those coaches and evaluators continue to neglect what makes him a very good quarterback, he's more likely to continue stacking up victories.

49ers' George Kittle, Richard Sherman critical of NFL coronavirus protocol

49ers' George Kittle, Richard Sherman critical of NFL coronavirus protocol

The NFL and its players don't seem to be on the same page.

The league sent out a memo on Saturday morning, laying out the timeline for players of 30 teams (Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans can have rookies report earlier) to begin reporting to NFL training camps, beginning with rookies on July 21.

But 49ers stars like George Kittle and Richard Sherman joined a group of NFL players expressing public criticism in the league's lack of transparency regarding health and safety protocols for teams amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Other NFL stars including former NFL MVP quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees were among the many stars around the league who voiced their concerns on Twitter Sunday morning.

If the NFL and NFL players association can't reach an agreement on protocols before Monday, rookies from the Chiefs and Texans will be expected to report to their respective facilities on Monday. But lacking an agreement could leave the league open to a grievance, which seems likely given how publicly frustrated players around the NFL appear to be.

NFL Media's Tom Pelissero gave some context as to the particular issues the union and many players seem to be at odds with.

[RELATED: George Kittle questions social distancing in 2020 NFL season]

Sherman is the 49ers' union representative for the NFLPA, and never has been shy about voicing his concerns over the NFL's response to the pandemic. 

Players want an acclimation period, and the NFLPA already recommended canceling the entire preseason in early July to allow for one.

Every American sports league has seen hurdles in their attempts to return to action with the pandemic ongoing, and the NFL is the only one of the four major leagues in the U.S. that hasn't altered the 2020 regular season schedule in any way.

What's clear from today's movement is that NFL players really want to compete in a 2020 season. But they also aren't willing to jeopardize the health and safety of their families unless they feel the league is doing everything in its power to protect them.

49ers could benefit from Saints, Eagles and Cowboys' salary cap issues

49ers could benefit from Saints, Eagles and Cowboys' salary cap issues

Things are setting up nicely for a prolonged 49ers run atop the NFC.

They reached the Super Bowl last season, and many of their top competitors likely will soon find it difficult to maintain their status. While a significant drop in the NFL salary cap -- which appears quite likely because of the coronavirus pandemic's financial effect on the league -- would negatively impact all teams, some inevitably will be hurt more than others.

It just so happens that some of the teams most likely to be trapped between a rock and a hard place are the ones currently seen as the most likely to unseat the 49ers from atop the conference.

The Dallas Cowboys' series of head-scratching contract decisions seems certain to put them in a precarious financial situation as it relates to the 2021 salary cap. But if you think the Cowboys are in a rough spot, just wait until you see the forecast for the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.

According to FoxBet, San Francisco (+460) is a slight favorite to win the NFC this coming season, though the Saints (+575) aren't far behind. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the third-best odds in the conference, and the Cowboys (+750) and Eagles (+1000) come in at fourth and fifth, respectively.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The salary cap -- which only counts the top 51 salaries on a team -- is set at $198 million for the upcoming 2020 season. Even if the cap remains flat for 2021, which seems to be the most optimistic of possibilities, all three of the Cowboys, Saints and Eagles will face a harsh reality, increasingly in that order. And if the 2021 cap drops, their plights will be exacerbated.

Dallas appears to have been shortsighted in its negotiations with quarterback Dak Prescott, whose desired long-term contract likely only will be more expensive next offseason than had the team addressed it before Wednesday's franchise tag deadline. Regardless, we can assume that the Cowboys currently have around $210 million in cap liabilities for the 2021 season, according to Over The Cap.

The Cowboys will carry over about $10 million in space into next season, so if the cap remains flat, they're currently rubbing right up against it. The Saints and Eagles, however, are way over the line, as both teams clearly were banking on what was an anticipated rise.

New Orleans currently has $249 million in cap liabilities for the 2021 season -- that doesn't include running back Alvin Kamara, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Any way you slice it, the Saints will have to find a way to trim costs. It will be difficult to do so without cutting some of their top players, or trading them for pennies on the dollar.

Consequently, New Orleans' roster might look a lot different next year than the last few seasons. Quarterback Drew Brees carries a huge $36.1 million cap hit in 2021, though his contract isn't guaranteed. If the Saints cut Brees, however, they'll only create an additional $13.5 million in cap savings while incurring over $22 million in dead money.

All signs point to Taysom Hill being the Saints' starting quarterback in 2021, and even then, more large salaries will have to go. It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if standout defensive end Cameron Jordan and starting left tackle Terron Armstead have to play elsewhere. The Saints also might be forced to make tough decisions on cornerback Marshon Lattimore and starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

And remember, for every salary removed, another one -- albeit less expensive -- takes its place.

Still, with some clever cap management, New Orleans theoretically could retain the core of its contending roster (minus Brees). But it's difficult to envision it being anywhere near as stacked as it is in 2020.

As for the Eagles, well, they're doomed.

They already have an astonishing $265 million in 2021 cap liabilities, and will have a much harder time remaining competitive while cutting costs. Of the Eagles' nine most expensive 2021 cap hits, each would create at least $10.6 million in dead cap if released, meaning savings will be minimized. Still, some of those players will have to go.

Receivers Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and former 49er Marquise Goodwin are as good as gone. Cutting those three would create an additional $20 million in cap space -- still not nearly enough.

Standout tight end Zach Ertz would appear to be one of the most likely cap casualties, particularly given Dallas Goedert plays the same position. Fletcher Cox is one of the best defensive tackles in the league, but he might have to go, too. Cutting those two -- both of whom were Pro Bowl selections last season -- would create an additional $12 million in cap space.

You get the point.

[RELATED: 49ers receivers being ranked last in NFC West overlooks key elements]

While the 49ers certainly will feel a squeeze if the cap drops, they're far better prepared. They currently have $170 million in cap liabilities for 2021, and while several key players are due for free agency, the 49ers can create additional space by cutting players who arguably aren't essential to their future success.

The Cowboys, Saints and Eagles -- not to mention the Bucs and Seattle Seahawks -- certainly appear capable of competing with the 49ers in 2020. But next season, the herd should thin, and while new threats surely will emerge, San Francisco has a far better chance of remaining atop the conference than most of the other current NFC contenders.