Jimmy Garoppolo did a lot in 2019.
How can the 49ers quarterback accomplish more in 2020? That’s easy: Throw fewer interceptions.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan indirectly referenced Garoppolo’s penchant for picks — many of which came because he didn’t see defenders — when asked Thursday about his progress this offseason.
“Everyone says, learning the offense — Jimmy’s learned the offense,” Shanahan said. “He’s fine with that. It’s just being automatic. It’s understanding coverages. … I can’t tell you how much more I know as a coach in year 17 or whatever than I did in year two. That never stops.”
Last year, in his first full season as a starter, Garoppolo threw 13 interceptions and had the eighth-highest interception percentage (2.7) in the NFL. Since 2017, Garoppolo has the ninth-highest interception percentage (2.8) among the 40 QBs who have at least 500 attempts.
Shanahan has been bothered that an inordinate amount of Garoppolo’s interceptions came because he didn’t recognize coverages. One example: In a divisional playoff win over Minnesota, Garoppolo didn’t see Eric Kendricks drop back into coverage and the linebacker was in perfection position to snag Garoppolo’s short pass.
Garoppolo’s 16 interceptions — he threw three in the playoffs — were part of an otherwise stellar 2019. He was the only QB to rank among the NFL’s top five in completion percentage (69.1), yards per attempt (8.4) and touchdown passes (27) in a season that he began with just 10 career starts under his belt.
The 49ers decided to stick with Garoppolo, 28, in the offseason after briefly investigating the possibility of signing Tom Brady, 42, a Bay Area native who reportedly wanted to join the 49ers. Shanahan spoke with Garoppolo about the 49ers’ decision to look into adding Brady before the former Patriots QB signed with the Buccaneers.
“When you have to talk to Jimmy about one of the best quarterbacks of all time being available, I know Jimmy has a goal to be that,” Shanahan said. “I know Jimmy, I believe Jimmy has the ability to be that and that’s what both of us are going for. If we can get him there — and he has the ability to do it — we’re going to be pretty happy with who we have for a long time.”
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Added Shanahan: “I think Jimmy’s fired up for this year. Last year was his first year to play a whole year and he had a hell of a year and got us very close to winning the Super Bowl.”
Help needed: Shanahan has spent far more time with his wife and three young children this offseason and some of it has been spent skateboarding, playing basketball in their backyard and watching “The Office.”
Shanahan also tackled a project to create more backyard fun. The project got completed, eventually.
“I got really bored and built a zip line for my family,” Shanahan said. “I tried to do it myself and I tried to build it over the pool, but I had it attached to a palm tree and I found out palm trees don’t have deep roots. So I had to take it off the palm tree and off the pool. Then I had to call someone to help.”
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