49ers: Grading Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance through 16 weeks

49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has enjoyed plenty of success in his first full season as a starter. Let’s take a look and analyze his performance through 16 weeks.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s tenure in the NFL has been marked by a series of extreme highs and lows. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback has packed more into his six-year professional career than anyone has in such a stretch.

He’s gone from heir apparent to future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady, to injury-prone bust, to franchise quarterback with the 49ers. Through it all, the former second-round pick has amassed his fair share of critics and skeptics.

As Garoppolo prepares to lead his team toward a potential No. 1 seed in the NFC and Super Bowl run, now is a great time to assess the budding star’s performance through the first 16 weeks of the 2019 NFL season.

Here’s a breakdown and letter grade for each aspect of Garoppolo’s performance in 2019.

Team Success: A+

The 49ers have surpassed every expectation for the 2019 season. Many experts projected the team’s ceiling to be a middling .500 team that finished well behind the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.

However, as the calendar transitions into the new year, the 49ers currently stand as the top seed in the NFC and boast a phenomenal 12-3 record. In fact, the team is just a few fluky bounces away from being undefeated entering their final regular-season matchup.

While a team’s overall record can sometimes be misleading, San Francisco’s +164 point differential (third-best in the NFL) solidifies their place amongst the best in the league.

Make no mistake, the reason for the team’s dominance this year stretches much further than Garoppolo. The defense has wreaked havoc, allowing the second-fewest yards per game (277.4). The Niners’ 145.1 rushing yards per game is also good for second-best in the sport.

Despite the roster parody, it can’t be denied that teams with bad quarterback play simply don’t overachieve to this extent. There are only a handful of examples in league history where a below-average signal-caller has led his team to any form of success.

Quarterback remains the most important position in the NFL, and Garoppolo has proven he is capable of leading a good roster to a successful season.

The Individual Performance: B

Garoppolo’s individual performance has quietly flown under the radar for most casual NFL fans.

While many attribute the team’s success to Kyle Shanahan or the dominant defense, the team’s passing game has actually been one of the best in the league. Garoppolo currently ranks 11th in total passing yards (3,693) and fourth in passing touchdowns (27).

The advanced stats further show that the QB has thrived this season. His 80.2 percent on-target percentage ranks fourth in the NFL. His 13.9 percent bad-throw percentage also ranks amongst the best in the league (fifth overall).

The biggest knock on the quarterback is his turnovers issues. His 13 interceptions and 10 fumbles each rank as the seventh-highest mark in the league.

It is worth noting that a portion of his interceptions can be attributed to the team’s 27 dropped passes (sixth highest in the league). However, it is crucial that Garoppolo cut down on his turnovers as the team attempts to make its first Super Bowl appearance since 2012.

The further one dives into the numbers, the more it becomes apparent that Garoppolo is more than just a game-manager. He is actively putting his team in a position to be competitive each week.

The Value: C+

Considering Garoppolo’s contract, any passing grade in the value category is a win for the 49ers. Many assumed that the albatross of a then NFL-record $137.5 million contract would plague the franchise for years to come.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, the team’s position speaks for itself. While a $27.5 million average annual salary will never be considered a bargain, most teams in the league would gladly pay that price for a top seed in the postseason.

The Conclusion

Perhaps the most powerful assessment of Garoppolo’s value comes by comparing the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Without its star at the helm, the Niners struggled to a 6-10 record last season.

While the combination of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard performed better than expected, the team clearly lacked a consistent option.

Next. 49ers: Robert Saleh will be a hot head coach candidate this offseason. dark

Just one season later, Garoppolo has faithful 49ers fans dreaming that the glory days of the late-1980s and early-1990s could be recaptured over the course of the next decade.