49ers camp review: Jimmy Garoppolo has looked rusty
SANTA CLARA — The 49ers return to training camp Thursday after four straight grueling practices and a day off to catch their breath. Here are the top five takeaways from camp so far.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo has lots of work to do
That’s no condemnation of Garoppolo. He’s coming off a torn ACL and hasn’t played football since October. He’s supposed to be rusty. And, boy, is he.
During 11-on-11 team drills in camp, Garoppolo has completed just 24 of 48 passes – 50%. Not good. His backup, Nick Mullens, has completed 20 of 28 passes — 71%.
Mullens has the advantage because he knows the offense better than Garoppolo and practiced more than him during OTAs and minicamp. Garoppolo was rehabbing his knee. He didn’t participate in team drills.
In addition, Garoppolo’s performance in camp hasn’t been all bad. He threw a beautiful deep touchdown pass that traveled 60 yards in the air. He even ran for a 10-yard gain.
But his passes often have been late and inaccurate. He has missed short, medium and long throws. And when he misses, he usually has missed high and to the right. All clear signs he’s out of practice.
He also has predetermined his throws before the snap — a clear sign he needs to improve reading defenses. On Tuesday, Garoppolo predetermined a throw to Richie James, who was covered by Greg Mabin, a backup cornerback filling in for starter Ahkello Witherspoon.
Garoppolo dropped back, stared down James and threw him the ball, expecting him to beat Mabin. But James didn’t beat Mabin. The pass landed incomplete. Meanwhile, Trent Taylor was wide open over the middle. Garoppolo never looked at him.
Good quarterbacks don’t always decide where to throw before the play starts. Good quarterbacks go through their reads quickly and decisively. Mullens is a speed reader. Garoppolo move his lips when he reads, so to speak.
Perhaps Garoppolo will improve his speed reading with practice.
2. Garoppolo’s teammates haven’t helped him
Teammates other than George Kittle, of course. Kittle still is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. But the 49ers have struggled to establish someone other than him in the passing game.
The 49ers want Dante Pettis to be their No. 1 wide receiver. So far, Garoppolo has thrown him 11 passes in camp and Pettis has caught only four of them. After one incomplete pass, Garoppolo yelled at Pettis on the field for not fighting harder to make the catch. Pettis may be losing Garoppolo’s trust and confidence.
The 49ers’ No. 2 receiver, Marquise Goodwin, has caught just two of five passes from Garoppolo. The starting running back, Tevin Coleman, who signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract this offseason, has caught just one of six passes from Garoppolo. The second-round pick, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, has caught just one of three. And the third-round pick, wide receiver Jalen Hurd, has caught zero. Garoppolo hasn’t thrown to him yet. Although this lack of production is on the wide receivers, some of it also falls on Garoppolo. See above.
Through four practices, Garoppolo’s favorite receivers have been Trent Taylor and Jordan Matthews. Someone else must step up.
3. The defense has improved since last season
The run defense seems to have improved. The defensive ends in the “Wide 9” set the edges and prevent the running backs from finding holes outside the tackles. The interior defensive linemen push the interior offensive linemen into the backfield.