Jeff Wilson

Jimmy Garoppolo keeps his cool while also keeping his 49ers undefeated

Jimmy Garoppolo keeps his cool while also keeping his 49ers undefeated

LANDOVER, Md. -- Steady rain not only turned the grass at FedEx Field into a sloppy mess Sunday, but it stunted Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers' offense during the first half.

Through two scoreless quarters, Garoppolo had more rushing yards (20) than passing yards (9), and the entire San Francisco offense had been held to 68 total yards.

According to his teammates, though, Garoppolo remained a cool customer, showing no sign of panic in the huddle or on the field. Even after the 49ers' first second-half drive, which ended when Washington safety Troy Apke intercepted a pass intended for Dante Pettis, Garoppolo stayed calm.

"He's really poised," 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne told NBC Sports Bay Area after the team's 9-0 win. “I don’t think he changes, to be honest. I heard about his stats in the first half, but since he's been here, he's always been like that. He never folds.

"He's definitely like Tom Brady. I compare him to him all the time. When you see little snippets of Tom Brady motivating people, they're like the same person. That’s a great guy to be compared to. He's been doing it since I was a kid, so I just feel like he has those traits in him."
Bourne isn’t the only person who noted Garoppolo's even keel throughout a game, no matter the situation. Win or lose, Garoppolo's teammates see the same personality.

“He’s the same,” 49ers running back Jeff Wilson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Still motivational, still uplifting, that’s the Jimmy we always see. Never going to waver.

"You already know he has to keep his composure more than anyone on this team, so he’s not ever rattled or frustrated. Whatever you need at that point in time, he seems to find the right words for you.”

Garoppolo and the 49ers' offense bounced back in the second half, ending the day with 151 passing yards and 283 total. They didn't score a touchdown, but their second-half effort was enough to seal the win and stay undefeated after six games.

Cornerback Richard Sherman also noticed Garoppolo's simply consistent attitude as the rain poured down around him.

“We didn’t know he was struggling,” Sherman said. “It’s just a rainy game. I think everybody’s just doing their best. I think he completed the passes we needed him to complete to move the ball down the field, so we didn’t look at it as a struggle.”

[RELATED: Watch Kittle troll Jimmy G during postgame interviews]

The only criticism jokingly made about Garoppolo’s in-huddle mannerisms came from tight end George Kittle, who believes his quarterback needs to lighten up sometimes.

“Jimmy is great in the huddle," Kittle said. "I try to make him laugh every time we get in the huddle when he gets too serious. He gets pretty mad at me.

"He is great in the huddle, though. The leadership that he carries in the huddle and on the sideline is incredible. It’s what makes our team click. He is the leader, and to have someone like that carry the team, whether he throws for so many yards or rushes for so many yards. His voice takes us a long way."

So far, Garoppolo's way has the 49ers 6-0 and looking for more.

Why 49ers running game key to beating Browns on 'Monday Night Football'

Why 49ers running game key to beating Browns on 'Monday Night Football'

SANTA CLARA — As much as the NFL has turned into a pass-first league, establishing the run forever will be critical to playing winning football.

The 49ers have done an excellent job of establishing the run thus far in 2019, and they'll have to continue to do so on early down in order to counter the Browns' formidable defense and leave Levi's Stadium victorious on Monday night.

The 49ers backfield has their work cut out for them, facing a Browns defense that has already amassed 14 sacks and 24 hits on opposing quarterbacks in their last four games. Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and now Tevin Coleman will try to get an early advantage in drives, needing to keep the offense’s third-down yardage to a minimum. 

The run-by-committee approach has been effective for the 49ers, with Breida and Mostert averaging over five and a half yards per carry over the last three games. Mostert is tied for fourth in the league with 5.9 yards per, and Breida is not far behind, ranked eighth with 5.5 yards per attempt. 

Wilson, who has the unofficial designation of being the goal-line back, has a lower average of nearly three yards per carry, but has made it into the end zone four times in two games. The addition of Coleman, who showed his effectiveness as a pass-catcher in the preseason and over his career, adds another dynamic to the group. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan knows the 49ers need to stay balanced in their offensive scheme to keep the likes of Browns defensive ends Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon on their heels. Garrett is tied for third in the NFL with six sacks in four weeks. 

“The goal always is to try not to become one dimensional,” Shanahan said earlier this week. “When you have that type of talented pass rushers, if you are one dimensional, I don’t care who’s blocking them, they’re going to get to your quarterback. 

“The other ways people get to the quarterback are blitzes. When that happens you are going to take some hits sometimes, that’s part of the game, but also the more you can make them pay when they blitz, the less you get. It’s a little give and take with both.”

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch ahead of "Monday Night Football" vs. Browns]

That doesn’t mean the pressure is off Jimmy Garoppolo to perform. The 49ers QB will need to be effective enough to keep the Browns defense from loading the box -- he has to continue to keep them guessing. Garoppolo's productivity has improved since the team’s Week 1 win in Tampa, as he has converted at least 55 percent of the 49ers' third downs in their last two games. 

Converting on third down has been critical for the 49ers' undefeated start to the season, and keeping the game balanced will be imperative going forward. 

“It’s also just as important to do good on third down because you need to stay out there to do good in the run game, to get runs called,” Shanahan said. “If you have short drives and stuff, it’s extremely hard to get that run game going. The key to running the ball, a lot of the times, depends on how good you’re passing and vice versa.”

49ers Mailbag: What happens to Jeff Wilson when Tevin Coleman returns

49ers Mailbag: What happens to Jeff Wilson when Tevin Coleman returns

It’s the slowest weekend of the season for the 49ers, who will return to work Monday to begin preparations for their Week 5 game against the Cleveland Browns.

The 49ers entered their bye week with a 3-0 record for the first time since 1998, but there remain a lot of unanswered questions, such as these that were submitted via Facebook.

What’s Jeff Wilson’s future look like once Coleman comes back? 53-man roster? And, if so, does he still see action on game day? (Fabio Sanchez Jr.)

Jeff Wilson has proven to be an NFL running back. He has four rushing touchdowns in his two games. But when Tevin Coleman is healthy from his high-ankle sprain, Coleman will be back in the lineup.

My guess is the 49ers will keep the 53-man roster as it is, with Wilson retaining his spot. If the 49ers waive Wilson, I’d fully expect another team to claim him. But as long as Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert are healthy, there’s probably not a spot for Wilson among the team’s active 46 players on game days.Coleman likely would resume his role as the starter and short-yardage back.

This is what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week when asked about Wilson:

“I think he’s been more of our down, north and south, downhill runner. I think Tevin’s very similar to that, also, and I think at times Raheem and Breida can do that. We’re willing to use all of them, but what we’ve asked Jeff to do in these two weeks he’s done very well.”

What is the likelihood the organization sticks with McKinnon after this season? Will releasing him clear up space to bring in new talent or extended other contacts? (Allen Nieves)

Jerick McKinnon will not play a down for the 49ers in his first two seasons with the club. He is scheduled to make $6.5 million in salary for next year. There is no way the 49ers can pay him that money.

The 49ers really like McKinnon as a player, teammate and person. My guess is they will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price to minimize their financial risk. If he declines, he will not be back.

Do you see Moseley or Verrett starting opposite Sherman after the bye? (Matthew J Azar)

Second-year pro Emmanuel Moseley is the favorite to take over for Ahkello Witherspoon, who is expected miss a month with a foot sprain, as the starting cornerback. Shanahan said it himself.

“E-Man would be the lead guy right now with how he finished that game and came in and what he’s done for us this whole year,” Shanahan said. “But we’ll give all the other guys a chance too with these practices we’ll have before Cleveland.”

Jason Verrett is returning from a torn Achilles that wiped out his entire 2018 season. He played in just one game in 2017. When he got into the game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he did not look ready.

Shanahan made it known that Moseley is in the lead because he wanted to send the message to Verrett that the onus is on him to outwork and outperform the youngster in practices in order to earn his way back onto the field.

Do you expect Jalen Hurd to see significant action upon his return after the bye week? (Andrew Jackson)

Rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd had an impressive preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 10. He has not been on the field since, as he has been out with a stress reaction in his back. I would expect the 49ers to ease Hurd back into the work flow.

When Hurd is ready to go, the 49ers must make a decision about what to do at the position. It is not a given the 49ers automatically would give Hurd a uniform on game days and sit Kendrick Bourne.

Obviously the defensive line is our deepest position with lots of solid players. Would the 49ers consider in trading any of them for picks next year? Or are the 49ers buyers this year? (Kaylum Rise)

They are not going to trade DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa or Dee Ford. Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair and Sheldon Day are in the final years of their contracts, so they would not have much trade value. I don’t envision the 49ers getting much in return for Solomon Thomas or Jullian Taylor, either. D.J. Jones is a starter at a bargain rate, so there’s no reason to deal him.

Although I would never rule out the possibility of a trade, I don’t see where there are reasonable trade options to acquire 2020 draft picks.

With Staley taking up a roster spot while injured (now Spoon also) and all the need at QB around the league, could you see the team really pushing to move Beathard before week six, even if they don't get the max trade of what they want? (Jason Batch)

I think they’ve already pushed, and there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.

The bigger question becomes how far will the 49ers go to hold onto Beathard if there are more injuries, such as those to Joe Staley and Ahkello Witherspoon, where additional roster spots are needed? At what point would the 49ers release Beathard to add a player at a position of need?

Two years ago, we drafted the most prolific punt returner in college football history onto our team, yet he’s not returning punts for us. What’s up with that? (Mark Waite)

Nobody has returned more punts for touchdowns in major college football history than Dante Pettis. But in his 15-game NFL career, Pettis has returned just nine punts for 27 yards.

The 49ers wanted Pettis to concentrate on playing wide receiver. But in watching Pettis, I’m just not sure that his method for returning punts translates to the NFL.

Good college athletes can get away with dancing to slip away from defenders. In the NFL, the athletes are too good. You have to secure the catch and get up the field in a hurry. Richie James is doing a good job on punt returns, so the 49ers have not felt compelled to consider a switch.

How does this locker room feel to other winning locker rooms of the past? Do we have our swagger back? (Kyle Schram)

It’s a good locker room. The 49ers appear to be grounded while going 3-0. They are excited about the first three games of the season. The players say the vibe is completely different than the past two years.

But everyone knows they have a lot of room for improvement, and if the loss column will start filling up if they don't improve.

After 3 games, where have we improved the most and what area do we need to improve? (Kito Songvilay)

The biggest improvement with the team has been the pass rush and team speed on defense. The pass rush has benefitted every level of the defense, especially the pass coverage. Also, the addition of linebacker Kwon Alexander has been huge, and he has really helped Fred Warner.

The area where the 49ers must improve is cutting down on the correctable mistakes -- penalties and turnovers, specifically.

[RELATED: What 49ers' Bosa needs to work on despite impressive start]

What do you honestly think the 49ers record will be at end of year? (Ryan Cosgrove Sr.)

I predicted the 49ers would finish with a 9-7 record and fall just short of the NFC playoffs. Officially, I’ll stick with that prediction for a while, but let’s take a look at the remainder of the schedule and try to forecast how things look:

@ L.A. Rams
@ Washington
@ Arizona
Green Bay
@ Baltimore
@ New Orleans
L.A. Rams
@ Seattle

The 49ers have a chance to win three of their next four games. The Cardinals have given them fits in recent years, but they should sweep them. Seattle (twice), Green Bay, Baltimore, New Orleans, Atlanta and the rematch with the Rams are not easy.

Ten victories are very possible, if not expected, at this point. The 49ers definitely should enter December very much in the playoff hunt.

If they can win seven of their final 13 games, the 49ers should end their playoff drought.