Jeff Garcia

Why 49ers can't use injuries as excuse for deserved loss vs. Falcons

Why 49ers can't use injuries as excuse for deserved loss vs. Falcons

The 49ers were not pleased with their effort in their 29-22 home loss to the Falcons on Sunday, and they weren't the only ones.

"Really disappointing game by the 49ers," NBC Sports Bay Area's Jeff Garcia said on "49ers Postgame Live" moments after the game. "And really shouldn't have even been in this game had it not been for mistakes by Atlanta all game long. The penalties were killing Atlanta, keeping drives alive for the 49ers to actually be in this game the way that it was."

Garcia has a point. Although the Falcons ended up on top, they didn't make it any easier on themselves by committing penalties at several crucial points throughout the game. Atlanta had a recovered onside kick nullified by a penalty, and also extended multiple San Francisco drives with infractions. Still, the 49ers ended up with the loss.

"I just am disappointed in how they came out," Garcia added. "They didn't show the fight they've shown over the past three weeks against some of the top teams in the National Football League, and they got what they deserved today. They got it handed to them."

It's worth noting that the 49ers were missing several key players on Sunday, including starters like Richard Sherman, Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt. That inevitably made San Francisco's task tougher, but nonetheless, the 49ers were in position to win the game.

"Absolutely it becomes too much," NBC Sports Bay Area's Donte Whitner said of the injuries, "but if George Kittle gets that first down and not fumble that football, then they leave here with a win. They have injuries on the defensive side of the football, the injuries on the offensive line proved to be too much, and then you played down to the level of your competition. Too many big plays given up, too many penalties and too many mistakes."

[RELATED: Teammates don't blame Kittle for 49ers' loss to Falcons]

The 49ers essentially have no more room for error, and now must address those mistakes on a short week before facing the Rams on Saturday.

Jimmy Garoppolo putting up historic stats among 49ers quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo putting up historic stats among 49ers quarterbacks

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is putting up one of the most prolific passing seasons in 49ers history, despite the team relying heavily on a running game while playing in the lead for much of their 11-2 start.

Only the Baltimore Ravens have attempted more running plays than the 49ers this season, which has cut into the number of passing attempts for Garoppolo. But he also has benefited from the balance of the team’s offense, which has kept opposing defenses honest.

At 249.6 yards passing per game, Garoppolo is on pace to throw for 3,993 yards this season. The 49ers have produced only three 4,000-yard passing seasons in franchise history. Steve Young did it twice, and Jeff Garcia threw for a team-record 4,278 in 2000.

“The more Jimmy gets to play, the more experiences he has, I think the more wisdom he has out there and the more consistently he plays,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

Among 49ers quarterbacks who have thrown for 3,500 or more yards in a season, there only have been five passer ratings of better than 100. Steve Young did it three times, while Joe Montana did it twice.

Garoppolo’s passer rating is 103.9. Six of his past seven games have featured ratings of 110 or better. During that seven-game stretch, Garoppolo completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 1,931 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Garoppolo ranks 12th in the NFL with 3,245 yards passing. Of quarterbacks who have attempted 300 or more passes this season, Garoppolo ranks tied for second, along with Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes, at 8.3 yards per attempt. Kirk Cousins leads the league at 8.4 yards per attempt.

He leads the league with 40.5 percent of his pass attempts being completed for first downs. Garoppolo has led fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives this season against Pittsburgh, Arizona and New Orleans.

Garoppolo engineered three go-ahead drives on Sunday in the 49ers’ 48-46 victory over the Saints. He enabled the 49ers to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter, giving the 49ers a 45-40 lead, when he scrambled for 2 yards on a third-and-2 play to the San Francisco 35-yard line.

[RELATED: What 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo did to impress Kyle Shanahan]

“That was huge,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy made a lot of plays in that game that there were some looks that you expect him to be automatic on and throw good balls, and he did.

“He didn’t miss any of the open ones, but there was a number of plays where he didn’t have a good play and he’d keep it alive and made some plays out there that weren’t necessarily there in rhythm.”

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo 'balling' to quiet critics, Jeff Garcia says

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo 'balling' to quiet critics, Jeff Garcia says

Jeff Garcia took the road less traveled to the NFL before finding himself atop 49ers record books. After going undrafted out of San Jose State University, the quarterback who was considered too small had to become a star in the Canadian Football League before getting a shot from the 49ers in 1999. 

Throughout his NFL career, Garcia dealt with the naysayers. He always found ways to quiet his critics, however, becoming a four-time Pro Bowl QB. Year later, he's watching Jimmy Garoppolo hush his haters while leading the 49ers. 

"I mean, you have three division leaders who you're going up against, and you're balling," Garcia said to NBC Sports Bay Area when asked about Garoppolo's performance in the 49ers' 48-46 win on Sunday over the Saints. "You're doing what you need to do to stay in the game, to give your team a chance to win the game.

"People who don't know the quarterback position are going to constantly question it."

The past three weeks, the 49ers have faced three division leaders in the Packers (NFC North), Ravens (AFC North) and Saints (NFC South). San Francisco went 2-1 in those three tough contests after Sunday's last-second win, and Garoppolo has continued to look impressive.

Sunday might have been Jimmy G's best game since the 49ers acquired him in 2017. He completed 26 of his 35 pass attempts for 349 yards, four touchdowns and one interception that bounced off wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' hands. The last three weeks, he has completed 72.4 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and one interception. 

"His overall play the last few weeks has been impressive," Garcia said. "I think he's really beginning to show a command of the offense -- excellent decision making, accuracy, getting the ball out on time, giving his players opportunities to make plays." 

Garcia says you can see Garoppolo's confidence growing as he grasps Kyle Shanahan's complex offense, and has a full, healthy season in the system. He also pointed to the 49ers now having a set trio of receivers with veteran Sanders, rookie Deebo Samuel and second-year pro Kendrick Bourne.

Having a star tight end like George Kittle doesn't hurt, too. 

Garoppolo joined Garcia and Steve Young as the only quarterbacks in 49ers history to have at least three games of four passing touchdowns in a single season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Garcia last accomplished the feat in 2000, nearly two decades ago.

"They're really starting to gel from an offensive standpoint with what [Garoppolo's] doing at quarterback," Garcia said. "For me to be among those stat lines ... we were definitely clicking on all cylinders, and you can't do it alone. Obviously it's everybody standing up and doing their job. Offensive line doing a great job protection wise. You need everybody to step up when you have games like that, four-touchdown type games.

[RELATED: How 49ers' offense remained calm on game-winning drive]

"Everybody is stepping up and being a playmaker, and you're just giving them the opportunity to make a play." 

Garcia enjoyed his first Pro Bowl season 19 years ago when he became San Francisco's full-time starting QB. He was balling then, just like Jimmy G is now.