Jimmy Garoppolo arguably has faced as much criticism and questions as any NFL quarterback this offseason. After leading the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, Garoppolo melted down in the fourth quarter.
He went 3-of-11 for 36 yards and an interception in the fourth quarter as the 49ers gained only 59 yards and blew a 20-10 lead.
Garoppolo, though, has had plenty of defenders, including fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
“I feel like I’ve been Jimmy’s bodyguard this offseason, but I’ve never been tired of it,” Juszczyk said Tuesday in a video call with beat reporters, via Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com.
Garoppolo, 28, had a comeback-player-of-the-year type of season, though he didn’t win the official award. He threw for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 102 passer rating.
Still, the 49ers considered Tom Brady before sticking with Garoppolo.
“It’s crazy to me that he doesn’t get the respect he deserves for what a phenomenal season I think he had, the numbers that he put up, the way he led this team,” Juszczyk said. “He was no doubt our leader on offense. He brought us to a Super Bowl and within seven minutes of winning one. So for him not to get the respect I feel he deserves, is pretty wild to me.”
Garoppolo was in line for Super Bowl MVP honors after three quarters, going 18-for-22 before the fourth quarter collapse.
After getting so close, Garoppolo now has to prove himself all over again.
“He seems to have handled it like the way Jimmy has handled everything,” Juszczyk said. “He’s exactly the same guy that he always is in these meetings. You haven’t seen any crazy media lash-outs from him or him be down on himself or anything like that.
“It’s just Jim. He comes to work every day and works his butt off, has the same demeanor every day. The outside noise truly doesn’t seem to affect him.”