San Francisco Chronicle
Garoppolo runs, throws for TDs, Bosa has 2 sacks in 49ers’ victory over Eagles.
There’s no QB situation when the starter plays this dependably
PHILADELPHIA — Just as you predicted, at halftime Sunday the 49ers’ leading rusher was Jimmy Garoppolo. With 13 yards. On three carries.
“Wooo! I love it,” tight end George Kittle said. “We’ve got a running quarterback.”
Are you laughing? Or are you mad, because you want the other guy, the one who actually will be a running quarterback?
Garoppolo took every offensive snap in Sunday’s
game, and now has led the 49ers to a 2-0 record on the road. On Sunday, he passed for a touchdown and ran for another in the 49ers’ grinding, gut-it-out 17-11 win over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Yet, judging by the reaction in the social media universe, you might have thought the 49ers had lost. Not just this week, but last week too.
That’s the situation head coach Kyle Shanahan has set up and one we’re likely to see play out on a weekly basis. Second-guessing is the nature of all NFL fans, but few have the kind of ammunition as the 49ers’ fan base currently has, with a snap-by-snap controversy handed to it on a silver platter by the head coach.
The 49ers won ugly yet again. But this victory was different from the week earlier in Detroit, when they almost blew a huge lead. On Sunday, after a week at the cushy Greenbrier confines in West Virginia (“It felt like we’ve been gone three months,” said defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw), the team came out looking like a team whose body clock was off. Discombobulated and out of rhythm. The 49ers’ first three possessions were three-and-outs. They didn’t get a first down until 12:38 remained in the second quarter.
And, oh, the howls. Where is Trey Lance? Where is No. 5? Why is Shanahan such a dolt?
But Garoppolo rewarded Shanahan for his faith. In the second quarter, the Eagles bumbled away a scoring chance, getting to the 3-yard line and ultimately coming away with no points.
Garoppolo then led a 12-play, 97-yard drive, running for 7 yards on one play and executing his second quarterback sneak of the game on another before throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to second-year receiver Jauan Jennings to give the 49ers an unexpected lead at the half.
It was the kind of drive that an untested rookie — even one as wildly popular as Lance — might not have executed. On the road, in a hostile environment.
All you had to do is look around the league to see how young quarterbacks were performing — Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow — for evidence of how hard it is to put together drives behind inexperienced quarterbacks. There were ugly performances all over the league.
Unlike the opening game, when Lance took four snaps, Shanahan didn’t use the rookie Sunday.
“I know it’s only our second game, but same as always,” Shanahan said of his decision-making regarding Lance. “I thought about a couple of situations, but went in a different direction. Just like with any other play call.”
The way the game played out, there was little margin for error. Just as a week earlier in Detroit, when the 49ers’ lead shrunk too much to give Lance some extended playing time, there wasn’t really a time Sunday to experiment.
And, for the moment, Lance remains primarily an experiment. Garoppolo is the quarterback who Shanahan trusts the most. Yes, even though he sailed a few passes. Yes, even if he only had one pass over 11 yards, a 40-yarder to Deebo Samuel. Garoppolo remains the steady hand on the wheel. It’s not a sexy story line, but it is the 49ers’ reality.
Garoppolo, who gave way to Lance on a touchdown drive against the Lions after getting the team in the red zone, said he wasn’t looking over his shoulder to see if the kid was coming in.
“No, I mean it is what it is, that whole thing,” Garoppolo said. “You can’t worry about it too much.
You have so many things to think about and you can only control what you can control. I’ve got a lot of things going on in my mind.”
Unlike the hot-take Twitter posts, Shanahan didn’t lay any blame for the slow start at Garoppolo’s feet.
“I didn’t see a ton of problems from him,” he said. “I thought there were a couple of throws that were off. I felt like it was the case for all 11 guys, not just Jimmy. It’s tough to get past that front five, and when you negate the run game like they did, it puts a lot of pressure on the guys.”
Garoppolo was 22-for-30 for 189 yards and a 100.6 rating. The 49ers did not turn over the ball. He ran the ball 11 times, including five successful quarterback sneaks for first downs. Heralded for having a linebacker mentality, Garoppolo seems to relish putting his head down and fighting for a yard or two.
“It’s part of being a quarterback,” he said. “I want my number called.”
And it wasn’t just sneaking up the middle. He also rolled out and got a few yards with his legs — though he still hasn’t learned the art of the quarterback slide.
When he does it, he doesn’t beat his chest. Center Alex Mack said Garoppolo has the same demeanor in the huddle, whether he’s calling his own number on a sneak or putting in a different play.
“It’s really boring in the huddle,” Mack said. “It’s really the same all the time. ‘Let’s go guys, good play.’ It’s that stuff repeated endlessly.”
Really boring. Steady. Focused. It hasn’t been dazzling or pretty. It hasn’t necessarily been what the fans want to see. But, so far, it has been effective.
And the 49ers are undefeated.