1. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Having an all-time great offensive coach comes with its consequences.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes, threw 27 touchdowns for nearly 4,000 passing yards, and just 13 interceptions in an NFC championship-winning season. Yet, no one gives him any upper echelon credit.
Instead, the Jimmy G disrespect runs rampant while Shanahan gets the majority of the credit. That wasn’t necessarily an unfair evaluation of Garoppolo last season.
His decision making remained erratic and made plenty of Niner fans nervous. At the same time, he also had incredible performances, most notably against the New Orleans Saints.
Barring injury, this will be Garoppolo’s second full-season with Shanahan, which has historically meant great things for quarterbacks.
Even with players like Samuel and Aiyuk out, his most trusted pass-catcher (George Kittle) remains. Plus, slot receiver Trent Taylor is back after missing the 2019 season.
As good as Emmanuel Sanders and Samuel looked with Jimmy G last season, there’s a compelling argument to make that no receiver has had a better rapport with Garoppolo than Taylor.
Given the arrival of former Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed, he’ll have plenty of weapons even if they don’t come with the usual cache.
Garoppolo has benefitted from Shanahan’s ability to protect him. The 49ers’ unstoppable run-game, creative play design, and defense have earned the majority of the credit for San Francisco’s success.
If Garoppolo wants to be known as something more than a quality system guy (*cough* Kirk Cousins *cough*), the Niners will need him to make the jump to star.