We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.



Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


SANTA CLARA — It is a firm rule that every NFL quarterback must have a nickname. So somebody came up with a beauty for the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo — Jimmy GQ.

The fashion magazine-handsome newcomer easily passes the airport test. That’s when you see the chiseled, 6-2, 225-pound 26-year-old walking through the airport and you say, “I don’t know who that is, but he looks like an NFL quarterback.”

Now, of course, we have to see if he plays like one.

Until last week, this column was adamantly opposed to rushing the team’s prized showhorse on the field. Let him settle in for a few more weeks. No hurry.

The main concern was he could get squashed like a bug. The offensive line is floundering. Watching poor crash-test quarterback C.J. Beathard get knocked facemask over tea kettle is becoming painful for us all, let alone No. 3.

But that was before head coach Kyle Shanahan arrived at his press conference last week with a can of worms, which he proceeded to open. Most football coaches avoid quarterback controversies like neckties.

Shanahan stepped right into this one, admitting he’s toying with the idea of playing Garoppolo now, and acknowledging that he runs into advocates for the idea everywhere, even at home. With the kind of sly quip that’s going to make him a media fave if he ever starts to win, he said his wife joined the “Play Jimmy G” chorus until he “had to simmer her down a little.”

So this is a thing. Garoppolo looms. Sooner rather than later.

I have two theories about why Shanahan wants him out there, despite the risks.

The first, unfortunately, is an unlikely conspiracy theory. Still, I’m going to throw it out there, just for the record.

Last year Garoppolo started two games for New England while Tom Brady was serving a four-game suspension. Jimmy G was excellent, but there’s a reason he only played two games.

In the second, he suffered one of those brutal Aaron Rodgers tackles, where the defender wraps you up, pins your arms to your sides and then body-slams your shoulder to the ground. (Which should be illegal, by the way. You should be allowed to hit the QB without the ball, but not wrap him up.)

Garoppolo suffered an “AC sprain” to his throwing shoulder, which I’ll bet the rest of us would call a shoulder separation.

He threw four passes the rest of the year, completing one. Granted, Brady was back, but that’s a small, uninspiring sample.

Last week, at his locker, I asked Garoppolo how long it took for the shoulder to heal. He said he was fine after two weeks. So, noted.

This year he played in three exhibition games with New England, putting up numbers that were perfectly fine, if not spectacular.

Now bear in mind that the 49ers did not sign Garoppolo to a contract extension when he was traded here from New England. Add in media reports that have said the team may not be ready to sign him to a long-term deal right away.

Wouldn’t it be within the realm of possibility that before the 49ers hand him $100 million, they want to see him on the field to be absolutely sure that he’s the player they thought they were getting? Specifically, is the shoulder OK?

Now, let me completely undercut all of that. At practice last week, Garoppolo was throwing passes side by side with Beathard. Even a clueless media member could see that Garoppolo’s balls were arriving with considerably more sizzle. He was throwing rockets.

Still, it is worth keeping an eye on this, just for due diligence.

But I think there’s a more likely reason that Shanahan wants to try Garoppolo. He’s getting pissed off.

Not at the team, most of whom seem to be doing all they can with what they’ve got. Losing is obviously discouraging. But, hey, this is a team that only won twice last year. Great things were not expected. Granted, 0-9 is way worse than anyone imagined, but it is degrees of suck-itude.

Nope, I think Shanahan’s sense of professionalism is offended. He said a little of it in his press conference. He knows what defenses are doing to his offense. And he knows how to stop it. Yet he can’t get people to do it.

In terms even a sports columnist can understand, it goes like this. Teams are bulking up on the line of scrimmage and sending linebackers at the snap. They are taking away the run.

“We’ve gotten blitzed … definitely more than I’ve ever had in my career,” Shanahan said. “Most of it is run blitzes to try to stop your run and dare you to do other things.”

He says there is only one acceptable response:

“You have to make people pay. That’s the only way to scare people out of stuff. I think we’ve struggled to make people pay.”

It’s the chess match of the play-caller. He analyzes what the defense is doing, recognizes it and calls the counter. Shanahan is doing that and it still doesn’t work. And, in a copycat league, the next opponent, having seen the success of the run-blitz, does the same thing.

It’s become a Groundhog Day of offensive frustration. Shanahan is sure he can move the ball if he could just find someone who is brilliant at making a quick read, getting a pass off and hitting a receiver consistently.

Enter Jimmy GQ.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Twitter: @cwnevius.

Show Comment