Humboldt Beacon (http://www.humboldtbeacon.com)

Texans' O'Brien not comparing Garoppolo with Brady


By Curtis Pashelka, Bay Area News Group

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SANTA CLARA — One of the potential problems opposing teams and coaches might have in trying to prepare for the 49ers offense over the next week or two is the limited amount of film they have to look at of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Coach Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans are experiencing that right now.
Naturally, they’re bringing up the film of Garoppolo’s snaps with the 49ers, particularly Sunday’s game against Chicago. But they’re also looking at tape of Garoppolo’s playing time with New England, including the scrimmage between the Texans and Patriots in training camp this summer.
“You have to really focus on what (coach) Kyle (Shanahan’s) doing with him, watching the Chicago game,” O’Brien said Tuesday in a conference call with Bay Area media.
“We’ll just have to go back and watch as much as we can and be ready for his skill-set and what he can do.”
Garoppolo will start again for the 49ers when they travel to Houston to face the Texans looking to win two games in a row for the first time since 2014 when they won three straight from Nov. 9-23 against New Orleans, the New York Giants and Washington.
In San Francisco’s 15-14 win over the Bears, Garoppolo completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards with one interception. Eight 49ers players caught at least one pass, with Marquise Goodwin leading all San Francisco receivers with eight catches for 99 yards.
It was Garoppolo’s first start since he took over those duties from C.J. Beathard.
“I wouldn’t say that they changed a whole lot,” from games started by Beathard to the one started by Garoppolo, O’Brien said. “I think that Kyle does a great job. He’s one of the best play callers in this league and play designers. They do things to suit the skill set of their quarterbacks and the players around them.
“Jimmy’s a very talented guy. Very good at reads, very good instincts as to how to play the position, very accurate passer. I know how they felt about him in New England and it’s going to be a very tough challenge for us.”
O’Brien didn’t want to make any comparisons from Garoppolo to Tom Brady. O’Brien worked with the Patriots for five seasons from 2007-2011, first as an offensive assistant, then as quarterbacks coach from 2009-2010 and as the offensive coordinator in 2011.
O’Brien said after he was hired by the Texans, he met with Garoppolo prior to the 2014 draft and watched him at his pro day at Northwestern.
“Jimmy plays the game in a very efficient way,” O’Brien said. “He just does a good job of reacting and playing the game with his instincts and understanding what the coach wants from a play and how to execute the play.”
O’Brien is all too familiar with midseason changes at the quarterback position, particularly this season when Tom Savage had to take over as the starter after Deshaun Watson tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice before the Texans’ Week 7 game against Cleveland.
Watson had completed nearly 62 percent of his passes this season for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 269 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns.
Savage is 1-4 as a starter and completed 31 of 49 passes for 365 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Texans’ 24-13 loss to Tennessee on Sunday.
The Texans enter Sunday with a 4-8 record and in third place in the AFC South.
“The glimpse of what we saw in the five or six games that he played, no doubt we feel like we have a great future here with Deshaun,” O’Brien said.
“I thought Tom played his best game last week against Tennessee. We didn’t win the game, but Tom stood in there and threw for 360 plus yards, made some great throws and very nearly led us back in. I think Tom’s playing at a very good level right now.”
?O’Brien said it “doesn’t look great” that receiver Bruce Ellington will play Sunday. Ellington, who dressed for 26 games for the 49ers from 2014-2015, suffered a hamstring injury against the Titans.
In 11 games for the Texans this season, Ellington had 29 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
“We love coaching Bruce. He’s brought a spark to our team,” O’Brien said. “He can do a lot of different things. He can play the slot, can play on the outside. He’s helped us as a punt returner. Great teammate, great guy to coach. Just a fantastic personality.”
?O’Brien has liked what he’s seen from tight end Stephen Anderson, a San Jose native who is in his second season with the Texans.
Anderson played at Piedmont Hills High before he walked on at Cal and later earned a scholarship. Undrafted after he graduated from Cal, Anderson has stuck with Houston ad 415 yards receiving in 24 games.
Anderson had his best game as a pro against Tennessee. After starting tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz suffered his third concussion of the season, Anderson stepped in and caught five passes for 79 yards. His second quarter touchdown reception from Savage was just his second in the NFL.
“Really came up big for us. Some big, big catches,” O’Brien said. “When we needed to move the chains, he’s a guy that really did a good job for us on the pass game. I thought his blocking, he played a very tough game.
“He’s come a long way since he’s been here. Undrafted guy, he was almost like a rookie tryout guy out of Cal. Very, very smart. Hardworking guy. Excellent teammate. He’s really doing a good job for us.”
? O’Brien said linebacker Brian Cushing will play Sunday. Cushing was activated Monday after a one-week roster exemption, a week after he was reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy a second time.