Kyle Shanahan doesn’t blame Jimmy Garoppolo for his two interceptions

USA TODAY Sports

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a complicated relationship with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Even with Garoppolo’s eventual replacement on the roster, Shanahan continues to cling to an unrealistic vision of what Garoppolo could be, but for the periodic mistakes.

But the periodic mistakes continue to happen. On Thursday night, Garoppolo’s pair of interceptions contributed significantly to the morphing of a trademark 49ers overpowering victory into a loss. One came in the end zone when the 49ers hoped to double an initial 7-0 lead. The second happened in the third quarter, after the Titans cut the margin to 10-3. That one ignited a Tennessee touchdown drive that tied the game.

After the 20-17 loss, Shanahan opted not to blame Garoppolo for a pair of misfires that helped turn 9-6 into 8-7.

“I mean, two turnovers cost you,” Shanahan said early in his post-game press conference. “But they’re not all just on him. That’s on everybody out there.”

The other 10 players out there may wonder about that. They blocked, they ran their routes. They didn’t make the bad throws.

Later, Shanahan had a flash of candor regarding the second interception.

“That was a real bad one, should not have thrown that,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan later declined to blame Garoppolo for missing receiver Brandon Aiyuk on a fourth and six from the Tennessee 40 after the Titans knotted the score at 10.

“[Aiyuk] was a little in between [on the route], and Jimmy was a little in between on the throw,” Shanahan said, explaining that communication in a situation like that is critical.

At the risk of being unfairly critical to Garoppolo, he continues to be just good enough, but never sufficiently great. He makes enough throws to stave off the rookie for whom the 49ers gave up three first-round picks and more. And the team gets just hot enough at times to get Shanahan to publicly ponder the possibility of a second lame-duck year for Garoppolo.

It’s almost as if Shanahan hopes on one hand that Garoppolo will justify the unreasonable faith the team has shown in him (they had a chance to pivot to Tom Brady after Super Bowl LIV but didn’t) and on the other hand that Garoppolo won’t end up in a place where the coaching staff will iron out the rough spots and turn him into something he’s never before been. He’s the bird in the hand that Shanahan wants to keep there while looking for two in the bush.

Maybe Shanahan’s faith in Garoppolo will be rewarded. Or maybe Shanahan simply needs an intervention. Regardless, Garoppolo has held the 49ers back from being what they could have been in recent years, whether because of his inability to stay healthy or his inability when healthy to avoid key mistakes. While Thursday night’s blunders likely won’t keep the 49ers out of the postseason (they have the Texans and Rams left on the docket), they were a reminder that, no matter how well things seem to be going, 49ers fans have to constantly worry that their quarterback will eventually screw things up.

38 responses to “Kyle Shanahan doesn’t blame Jimmy Garoppolo for his two interceptions

  1. I’m no Garoppolo fan, but it sure looked to me like the receiver should have at least attempted to catch the ball on that second interception. It also appeared that the 4th down pass was slightly tipped. No mention of either by the announcers.

  2. “…the bird in the hand that Shanahan wants to keep there while looking for two in the bush” is a great line. Jimmy will age that coach 3-4 years for every year they are together.

  3. I’ve defended Jimmy alot but his mistakes were definitely a huge reason the Niners lost last night. The picks were absolutely on Jimmy. Kyle is just taking the high road.

  4. Shanny is in deep doo-doo when he has to defend his turnover machine of a QB, while not having the faith in Trey Lance to even pop him in for a play or two in situations like the red zone — where Jimmy has continually screwed-up. What coach has ever blown so much future draft capital on a QB he refuses to play? I think Kyle realizes he made a serious mistake drafting Lance. He’s hoping he can make Jimmy G look good enough to entice some bottom-feeder team into giving-up a first rounder for “G” and use that pick to roll the dice on yet another QB under the guise that said QB was high on their scouting list and they had to take him because he was “the best player available.” With the exception of the quarterback room, Shanny has a ton of talent on that team. I’ve never see a coach get so little out of so much.

  5. Makes no sense for Shanahan to pile on Garappolo. Jimmy is the only viable option at QB. Shannon has to work with what he has. The Niners will still be in the playoffs so they still have a shot. There are a lot of positives with this team and they are dangerous.

  6. Jimmy Garoppolo wetted the bed on national TV in front of all to see. That is a case of a QB costing his team a victory. We had a window to blow the Titans out and our QB slammed that window shut and forced the 49ers to play in a phone booth with the Titans and the Titans started beating the 49ers down.

    I love this team, I love the fight in these players, I love coaching staff, but we’re not a good team and here’s why. We have a turnover prone QB and a defense with zero ball skills who can’t force turnovers. You can’t consistently win games when you consistently lose the turnover battle. I salute the fight in this team because how we won 6 out of 8 games with a turnover prone QB and a defense who can’t force turnovers is amazing,

  7. I hope everyone in Cleveland who talks on sports radio about the Browns getting Jimmy G take a good hard look at these games. Please don’t take a run at this!!

  8. I love my 49ers, but Shanahan continues to let his ego get in the way of becoming a great coach. He always has to be the smartest guy in the room, and come hell or high water he will try make everyone wrong about Garappolo. It may be his downfall.

  9. Great coaches still need a great personnel evaluator, and Shanahan hired a GM from the TV booth. John Lynch never worked a day scouting. Look no farther than John Elway to see that HOF players don’t necessarily roll out of bed and become great evaluators. When I see a QB standing on the sidelines that was a very, very high first round pick, I’m thinking the harmony in the front office might not be what everybody thinks.

  10. Yes, the 2 INTs cost them the game. But the guy has a 99 QB Rating. He is 8-6 as a starter. He’s thrown 10 INTs in 14 games. But he’s an INT machine? Here’s a list of all the QBs who have thrown just as many if not more INTs than Garoppolo this season. Burrow, Tannehill, Lawrence, Mahommes, Jackson, Herbert, Allen, Heineken, Carr, Wilson, Brady, Ryan, Darold, Fields, Prescott, Stafford, Jones and Murray. I’m not saying Jimmy is an elite QB but it is best to be honest in our assessment. The one ball is tipped, the other the receiver is not where he’s supposed to be on the route, and we want to fire the QB. It seems that these assessments are, if I like the QB, I will defend every mistake, if I don’t like the QB I will exploit every fault.

  11. This offseason for the 9ers will be interesting for sure. They have to trade Jimmy, so they are not going to get full value for him. Or, they keep him, which will eventually cost Kyle and Lynch their jobs because it will be admitting they made a huge mistake on Lance.

  12. Score should have been 24 to 0 at halftime, that blame is squarely on garapollo. Defense has one glaring issue and it’s name is Josh Norman. You have a guy like boushad Breeland out there and don’t pick him up, Why would you not do that??? Norman makes a few plays niners offense would have had 3 more chances to score. Norman is slow and completely washed up, he’s way more of a liability than Garapollo.

  13. Shanahan is as bad as Garoppolo, they lose prime time games and lose games they should win. 5 Pro Bowl players and 7 alternates isn’t enough for either of them to consistently be successful. And both are bad in the second half of games. Their opponents adjust at halftime and Shanahan continually wets his pants. If he doesn’t end up losing he comes close

  14. onereasonableman says:
    December 24, 2021 at 10:36 am
    I hope everyone in Cleveland who talks on sports radio about the Browns getting Jimmy G take a good hard look at these games. Please don’t take a run at this!!

    ___________________
    Jimmy G, Kirk Cousins are a cut above the Mayfields, Minshews, Jarrod Goffs,Jameis Winstons, and Mariotas of the NFL.

  15. It’s time for my niners to move forward with Trey Lance and let him play full time QB .I’ve seen enough.

  16. Kyle Shanahan coaching record
    37-42 1 playoff appearance 2-1

    Mike Nagy coaching record
    32-30 2 playoff appearances
    0-2

  17. Garoppolo = Wentz. Neither one is going to hoist a team on his back and win a clutch game for you.

    But they will often give you a crucial loss in crunch time.

  18. What a waste of a season. This 49ers team was good enough to have a shot at the Super Bowl, but instead Lynch and Shanahan have thrown it away trying to build up Garoppolo’s trade value. Mission failed.

  19. Garoppolo doesn’t have to be great – he just has to be better than his (expensive) competition. So far, so good.

  20. Jimmy G’s writing his own ticket outta SF. When u miss those early chances to score, esp. TD’s great chance ur team’s gonna lose. The head coach has had his problems too. WHERE was KITTLE last nite? Coulda been simply flying to TN on a short week. Titans looked more aggressive, more energy. The 9’ers did look sharp. Jimmy G reminds me of Kirk Cousins from the Vikes, maybe even a lil less consistent. Chances of winning a Super Bowl with them r on the slim side.

  21. The 9’ers drafting Trey Lance looks more like a long term project. Evaluating talent is not as hard as some make it out to be. They over think or try to out think others. Watch college football, it’s ez to make a list of the best players on the field. How u pick Lance after not playing for year, not much experience, after Wentz petered out in Philly while being selfish, drafting #3 from a small school is a huge risk. If Lance had the playbook down, etc. he’d be out there. Why no plays at all like in the beginning. Mac Jones was THE pick. Big school, nfl type offense, experienced in big games.

  22. IMO, anyone who thinks the Niners should fire Shanahan is delusional. There are a dozen teams that would kill to have him designing their offense and he’d be back to work as soon as he wanted to be.

  23. Jimmy looks great until he does what he does. I’m not sure if he has any IQ points. While the Indy starting QB is the dumbest player to ever play and Lame from Baltimore is a close second, Jimmy is all hair and nothing else there.

  24. nocomment says:
    December 24, 2021 at 1:12 pm
    What a waste of a season. This 49ers team was good enough to have a shot at the Super Bowl, but instead Lynch and Shanahan have thrown it away trying to build up Garoppolo’s trade value. Mission failed.

    ——————

    I think Lynch and Shanahan threw it away when they sent three first round picks to Miami instead of drafting a cornerback or two

  25. Something to consider:

    “Overall, from Weeks 10-15, only Aaron Rodgers (117.1) has a higher passer rating than Garoppolo’s 110.2, which Garoppolo amassed by completing 113 of 161 passes (70.2%) for 1,418 yards (8.8 yards per attempt), 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions. It’s been the best prolonged stretch of Garoppolo’s career, but that one bugaboo — reading and reacting to coverage over the middle of the field — has continued to haunt him. When the middle of the field is closed — “MOFC” in football parlance — Garoppolo tends to shut down, as well”

    The weakness is obvious to every fan. The solution is unpalatable to Kyle & Lynch.

  26. Let’s be honest here, Mac Jones was his first choice in the draft but he got talked out of it by the people around him. He’s regretting it now, especially the Patriots are having a good season with the rookie QB.

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