Garoppolo’s progress raising hopes for 49ers
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers just took another scheduled day off from training camp to rest and heal their bodies. Here are the top-five takeaways from the past four days of camp.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo has improved.
The first four days of camp, Garoppolo completed only 50 percent of his passes — he seemed hesitant and rusty following ACL surgery. But, then he took a day off, and since he returned to camp he has completed 60 percent of his passes during 11-on-11 team drills. He seems poised and confident like he did in 2017 when he won his first five starts with the 49ers.
“You saw Year 1, he raised the level of everyone’s play,” general manager John Lynch said of Garoppolo during an exclusive one-on-one interview with The Press Democrat. “That’s what special players do — they make everyone around them better.”
But, in 2018, Garoppolo did not make the players around him better. And he seemed to lose confidence as he lost two of his first three starts. Why did he lose confidence?
“His first year, he had very limited game plans,” Lynch explained. “The second year, he knew just enough (of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system) to be dangerous, but also enough to get bit every now and then. Our hope was that would improve throughout the year. This offseason, he took a lot (of information) in, and we’re really happy with where he’s at.”
Meaning Garoppolo knows the offense better than he did a year ago.
2. Center Weston Richburg still hasn’t returned from injury.
Other than Garoppolo, Richburg might be the most important player on the offense this season. Here’s why.
Garoppolo has a surgically repaired left knee. He will need space in the pocket to confidently step into throws. Richburg lines up directly in front of Garoppolo. If Richburg can’t hold his ground, Garoppolo can’t step into his throws.
This offseason, Richburg had surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon. He missed all of OTAs, minicamp and probably will miss all of training camp, too. “(Richburg) is really working towards Week 1,” Lynch told reporters on July 26. “That’s been the goal all along and we’re hopeful, but we’ll see.”
Meaning it’s no certainty Richburg will be healthy to play Week 1. And even if he is healthy, he might be rusty. His backup currently is Ben Garland, who has started only seven games since entering the NFL in 2012. In camp, the 49ers defensive linemen consistently have pushed Garland around.
For Garoppolo’s sake, the 49ers need Richburg back pronto.
3. Nick Bosa is similar to a former 49ers defensive lineman named Smith, but not Aldon.
After watching Bosa for eight days of camp, some believe he’s even better than Aldon Smith was in 2011 when Smith was a rookie.
Those people most likely are mistaken.
Aldon Smith, the un-Nick-Bosa, recorded 14 sacks his rookie season, and beat offensive tackles with explosive bursts of violence. He had 35⅜-inch arms, and he clubbed people over the head with them.
Bosa is smaller and he has shorter arms. He doesn’t win with breathtaking flashes of viciousness — he wins with relentless effort and advanced technique. And he doesn’t always win right away, but he wins eventually. He never stays blocked.