SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — High hopes have been draped over the shoulders of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo heading into the 2019 regular season.
Maybe just a little too high.
Garoppolo, who is coming back form a torn ACL that sidelined him for the majority of the 2018 season, is coming off a week in the preseason he probably love to just forget. At a practice last week, he tossed five consecutive interceptions and then he followed with an dismal 1-for-6 for zero yards and an interception in limited play in a preseason game against Denver. That’s 0.0 passer rating.
“I’m sure it’s happened at some point throughout my football career,” Garoppolo told reporters Thursday. “That’s football, though. There’s going to be ups and downs. As a quarterback, you just try to stay right in the middle the whole time and kind of just do what you do over and over and the results will take care of themselves.”
But even as he spoke, his body language was just a little tighter than normal. He admitted there have been some hurdles to overcome as he makes his comeback.
“I think it was good for me to get out there, for sure,” he said. “It’s been, what, almost a year or so and I think naturally you try to block those things out, but naturally I think they just come. So, yeah, I think it was a good stepping stone last week getting on the field, live bullets flying and all that stuff.”
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan confidence in Garoppolo seems to be unshaken. He said Garoppolo simply didn’t a chance to find his rhythm in his first real action back from injury.
“Everyone’s amped up to play in these games whether it’s just a normal NFL game, a normal preseason game, whether it’s the first game of the year or whether it’s your first game back from injury,” he said. “You like to get guys some things to get a quarterback in rhythm, the entire offense in rhythm, and we didn’t do that.”
“I truly believe if we would have stayed in there it would have been a matter of time,” he continued. “It’s just really hard in the preseason when you have three bad drives like that and they want to stay in longer and every part of my body wants to keep him in longer, but you’ve got to make the smart decision and get him out.”
So how long will the starters play in Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs? Shanahan says his starters will be on a play count.
“I would like them to get a whole half in, but sometimes halves can be 20 plays, sometimes they can be 45,” he told reporters. “So, it’s more about the play count, but you’d like them to get a normal half in. If they do, depending on how you start with the ball, how many series you get, if you feel good about it. We’d like to not put him back out in the third quarter, but if you don’t feel good and you don’t feel like you got the reps, that’s always an option.”
How long will Garoppolo play?
“From a quarterback standpoint, it’d be great for Jimmy to leave him in all games and let him do this and go through reps,” Shanahan told reporters. “Even not coming back from an injury, just missing last year except for the two and a half games and then not playing much before that, that’s all Jimmy needs is just to play football whether he’s coming back from an injury or not.”
“We thought we were going to get that last year and unfortunately we didn’t and that was out of everyone’s control. Now we’re back to that, plus he’s coming off an injury with it. I want Jimmy to play as much as possible in the preseason and into the regular season, but that’s a fine line too.”
Garoppolo said he’s ready to battle through whatever challenges he faces in the remainder of the preseason.
“It’s one of those things that you could react two ways to it,” he said. “You could crumble up and kind of go into a fetal position and surrender or you could go out and fight. We’ve got a locker room full of guys that want to fight, and myself included. Every day you have to come in and earn your spot. It’s never going to be given to you, so you’ve got to come earn it.”