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Kurtenbach: These six throws show why Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal


By Dieter Kurtenbach, Bay Area News Group

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sometimes it only takes one game to know.
You donít need to have put in two decades of work as a professional scout in the NFL to know that a quarterback has supreme talent — it pops off the screen, itís evident in the stadium.
Great quarterbacks make throws that elicit audible responses from those watching — throws so good you canít help but note them in real time.
Jimmy Garoppolo might not have led the 49ers to a touchdown in his debut start Sunday, but he did lead the Niners to their second win of the season, and he made me say ďgreat throwĒ against my own will at least a dozen times in the process.
Make no mistake, Garoppoloís Sunday performance was sterling — he ended the day having gone 26-for-37 for 293 yards, marred only by an interception that no one could pin on the quarterback (unless you somehow think itís Garoppoloís fault that Louis Murphy had the ball stolen from him).
I wrote after Sundayís contest that the 49ers might as well have slapped a franchise tag (worth $23 million-plus) for next season on Garoppolo as he walked off the field following that win. Re-watching the game Monday morning, Iíd go as far to say that if the Niners and Garoppolo came to terms on a $100 million-plus deal in the coming days, it would be fully justified — this guy has game-changing talent. And because he plays the most important position in professional sports, that gives him franchise-changing talent.
Let me show you what Iím talking about — here are the six throws that stood out to me in Garoppoloís performance against the Bears:
This was one of the first throws of the game and itís an absolute dime. Third down — the money down for NFL quarterbacks — and Garoppolo looks like a prototype NFL quarterback on this shotgun snap. Headís up, throw had zip, and he slipped it between two men in coverage. Thatís a pro throw.
Watch the replay of that conversion — Fuller (23) had a nice break on that ball, but the timing and pace of the throw beat him, and it was an easy catch for Goodwin. Thatís a hallmark of good NFL quarterbacks: they make throws that force defensive backs to make great plays and only require their receivers to make easy ones.
That one throw, right there, was enough to convince me Garoppolo had what everyone to saw him in New England and at 49ersí practices told me he had: the goods. He then proceeded to make five more throws that raised my eyebrows (in a good way).
This throw might not have gained a first down, but itís a good example of how Garoppolo can make plays with his feet. This is a broken play — Garoppolo might have missed his man on the right side, but he made something happen against a solid pass-rush anyway.
When heís on the run, he has two men on top of him, but he squares his shoulders and throws a perfect ball to the sideline — only Louis Murphy could catch that. Frankly, Murphy was all sorts of twisted up on the play — a better receiver probably gets both feet on that throw and at least makes the referees measure it.
Alas, thatís not the help Garoppolo has right now.
This play wasnít necessarily well executed — again, Garoppolo missed a first down with his first read on the right sideline — but it shows that he can make plays as a freelancer —  a vital skill for any quarterback.
This breakdown is simple enough: Garoppolo gives a strong play-action sell, has a defender coming right at him, but he stands strong and delivers a great throw to an open receiver. It might seem basic, but a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL scramble out of this, likely negating a first-down play. Itís been a while since 49ers fans have seen a throw like this.
Again, simple: He feels the pressure, sets his feet the best he can, and delivers an absolute dime to Trent Taylor over the middle.
The Niners destroyed the Bears over the middle Sunday — not every team will be as gracious on this part of the field, but weíve seen that Garoppolo has the arm to hit on the sidelines, too. He can take anything the defense gives him.
Sidenote: Taylor, who was great a Louisiana Tech, is going to be a star with Garoppolo. Get comfortable with the lazy New-England-white-guy-slot-receiver comparisons right now — theyíre not going away anytime soon.
(Thanks to Brian Baldinger for the early coaches room film on this.)
Was it the smartest throw? No, but letís ignore the lunacy of it (if you can) and respect the talent that it takes to toss a ball like this on the run. Garoppolo was throwing on a hop, and he weighted the pass perfectly to the back of the end zone, where, again, his receiver probably let him down.
This is A-plus arm talent and it shows his freelancing skills — it was an incomplete pass, but thatís the kind of play that shows Garoppolo is a different kind of cat.
This is The Throw.
This is all you need to see to know that Garoppolo is the real deal and that he has the talent to completely change a franchise.
This a throw that makes $100 million look fair and a second-round pick look like a pittance.
This is next-level stuff.
Letís run through it: itís play-action, so Garoppoloís back is turned to the defense. When he turns back around, he has a 325-pound behemoth barrelling down on him. He canít fully set his feet, but he is able to contort himself into a good throwing motion before heís smacked down.
Great idea to throw between three defenders? Not really — unless you have an elite arm.
Garoppolo has one of those, so he threw it. He sees that the primary defender has his back to him — he can beat him — and that the additional two men in coverage have given him enough room to fit it in a two-by-two window.
 
Thatís exactly where the ball went.
This is a stupefyingly good throw.
And hereís the crazy thing: this is Garoppoloís baseline. As I wrote Sunday, itís only going to get better from here.
There were a few throws against the Bears that Garoppolo might want back — low-lights, if you will — but the highlights of the game were terribly impressive and should give every 49ers fan hope that this franchise will turn around in the years to come with a quarterback like Garoppolo at the helm.
All video via NFL.com