Garoppolo and Carr haven’t shined so far
After one game, is it too early to rethink our great quarterback hopes?
We thought that this might be the season. The rare season when both the Raiders and 49ers would have stellar quarterbacking. When we would get the opportunity to compare and contrast styles and yardage and touchdowns and leadership and all of the intangibles that go into the most important position in football.
For all the years they’ve played on either side of the San Francisco Bay — and this could be the very last one — the two local teams have rarely both had elite quarterbacking in the same season.
We thought this could be the exceptional year, with Jimmy Garoppolo playing a full season for offensive whiz kid Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco and Derek Carr being tutored by quarterback whisperer Jon Gruden in Oakland.
One week is way, way, way too early to make any assumptions. But the Year of the Quarterback got off to quite a rocky start. Garoppolo and Carr each threw three interceptions in a loss, each threw a pick-six, and they combined for one touchdown pass (Garoppolo’s to Dante Pettis).
The players finished the first week ranked No. 31 and No. 32 in league quarterback ratings. Only Detroit’s Matt Stafford and beleaguered Nathan Peterman finished lower (there were 34 rated quarterbacks because of the Peterman disaster in Buffalo and because Marcus Mariota left the Tennessee game, giv-
27 in November. Both were drafted in the second round in 2014. While Carr has far more experience — 55 more games started than Garoppolo — each is the highest-paid player, by a long shot, on his team. Garoppolo’s contract averages $27.5 million per year, Carr’s $25 million.
That puts more focus and pressure on both men. And all the parallels make for easy points of comparison.
You have to go back to 2001 for the last time both the Raiders and the 49ers had quarterbacks rated in the top 10 in the league. That year Rich Gannon clocked in at No. 2 and Jeff Garcia at No. 3.
While passer rating is an imperfect statistic, one that many football observers don’t like for various reasons, it does provide a measure of a quarterback’s efficiency and consistency, especially over a season. It’s the way the league determines the quarterback leader for the season. And in comparing the 49ers and the Raiders, it usually shows exactly what we already know to be true.
The teams started sharing the Bay Area in 1960. At the time, John Brodie was the preeminent quarterback. In 1970, when the leagues merged, Brodie was the top-rated quarterback but Daryle Lamonica, the Raiders’ starter, was at No. 8. (The rating statistic wasn’t added until 1973, but ratings before that have been calculated retroactively.) In the following years, Lamonica and then Ken Stabler were among the league’s best, while the 49ers lost their way.
When Joe Montana took over for the 49ers, he was ranked in the top 10 every year as a starter, while the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders were erratic ( Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls but wasn’t among the league’s top-rated quarterbacks either season).
While the Raiders were in Los Angeles, the 49ers continued an unprecedented run of dominance at quarterback; after Montana, Steve Young was the league’s top-rated quarterback in six out of his eight years as a starter.
But then, after Gannon’s stretch from 1999 to 2002, which coincided with two years of Garcia in the top 10, the teams have fallen on barren years. Only Colin Kaepernick cracked the top 10 in the past 15 seasons — at No. 7 in 2013. The 21st century has not been great for Bay Area NFL quarterbacks.
Which is why it would be fun to see some excellence this season.
Carr is definitely carrying more pressure than relative newcomer Garoppolo. He was in the MVP conversation just two seasons ago but hasn’t looked right since. Gaining Gruden as a coach only raises expectations.
As does the astounding trade of Khalil Mack. Gruden’s stance has basically been that, hey, we had to pick between Carr and Mack, financially, and so Mack became expendable. If Carr continues to struggle, that will look like an even worse decision than it does now. And it currently looks terrible.
The Mack deal continues to exasperate: Gruden said on “Monday Night Football” that “Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here.” That directly contradicts Mack’s own words from just a few months ago.
Gruden has all the power and the players know it. If he wanted Mack, why didn’t he reach out to him with his famous charm and persuade him that the the Raiders would work something out. Mack told “Sunday Night Football” — before his monster, eye-popping game — that a personal call from Gruden would have made a difference. Instead Gruden played chicken with a guy under contract and lost.
And Gruden hasn’t helped things with his postgame analysis: “Obviously we didn’t get to ( Jared) Goff enough, we didn’t get to (Todd) Gurley enough. We’ll take a good look at reasons why.” I think every Raider observer knows the top reason why.
Week 2 looks a bit easier for Garoppolo. Though Detroit was embarrassed on “Monday Night Football,” new coach Matt Patricia certainly knows Garoppolo well from their time together in New England.
Carr, whose team shed Mack and then faced Aaron Donald in Week 1, goes up against Denver’s Von Miller, completing the trifecta of the highestpaid defensive players in the league. Carr has been sacked 16 times in seven career games against the Broncos.
It’s only Week 2. We’ll see if our hoped-for Year of the Quarterback can get back on track.