Jimmy Garoppolo passes first playoff test for 49ers

NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers didn’t ask Jimmy Garoppolo to do much today, but he was still efficient enough to pass his first playoff test.

Final

San Francisco 49ers

27

Minnesota Vikings

10

On first glance, the numbers for San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo don’t look particularly impressive. Garoppolo only attempted 19 passes in the 49ers’ 27-10 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings, completing 11 of them for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

In a game where their quarterback was getting his feet wet in the playoffs, 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan drew up a run-heavy game plan, radioing in 47 run plays against just 21 drop backs. The result was a very average game for Garoppolo, who completed just 58 percent of his passes and made one big mistake, tossing an interception to Eric Kendricks late in the second quarter to set up a field goal for Minnesota.


 


The end results don’t look great for Garoppolo, but this was not a game that the 49ers asked him to make big plays in to secure the victory. Garoppolo was tasked with managing the offense, making the big throws when necessary, and avoiding mistakes.

Aside from the pick in the second quarter, Garoppolo followed the game plan to a T. This was a game where the 49ers knew that they wouldn’t need a ton out of their quarterback, especially with their defense throttling Dalvin Cook to the tune of just 18 yards on nine carries.

The most important thing that Garoppolo did in the contest was lead the 49ers to two touchdowns in their first three drives, putting the Vikings in a 14-7 hole early. That forced Minnesota to abandon the run (far too quickly given the scoreboard) and put the ball in the hands of Kirk Cousins, who was sacked six times and only averaged 5.9 yards per attempt.

The win puts the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, where they will host either Green Bay or Seattle next week. Each of those teams brings a Super Bowl winning quarterback to the table in Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson respectively, so simply managing the game won’t be good enough for Garoppolo next week.

Shanahan knows this, and he took advantage of a perfect spot to get his quarterback’s potential postseason jitters out of the way before asking Garoppolo to assume more of the workload next week. Garoppolo got through one playoff game and got the job done, but the degree of difficulty for him should increase dramatically next Sunday night.

Next: NFL Coaching Hires: Redskins, Cowboys earn high marks

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