MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Jimmy Garoppolo was good enough to get the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl LIV.
He was not good enough to help them to win it.
Garoppolo’s certainly not the entire reason why the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, but it was hard not to notice the disparity in play between Patrick Mahomes and the Niners quarterback. Everyone knew Mahomes and Garoppolo were not on the same level entering Sunday’s game, but as Mahomes was leading the Chiefs to fourth-quarter scoring drives, Garoppolo and the 49ers simply couldn’t keep up. Garoppolo went just 3-of-11 for 36 yards with an interception in the fourth quarter. Mahomes was 10-of-17 for 141 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the final frame.
The 49ers had the ball three times in the fourth quarter. Those drives ended in a punt, a turnover on downs and an interception. San Francisco had a chance to retake the lead after receiving the ball with 2:39 left in the game. Garoppolo went 2-of-5 for 24 yards with two batted passes and was sacked on fourth down.
“Those are the moments you dream of and everything,” Garoppolo said. “We got rolling on a right note and just couldn’t finish it off.”
Before Garoppolo was sacked on fourth down, he overthrew wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders by nearly five yards on third down. It was a throw that could have won the 49ers the Super Bowl.
“Emmanuel did a good job of just getting over the safeties,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I didn’t see how the pocket was, so I’m not sure. I was looking down the field. It looked like (Garoppolo) just missed him.”
Shanahan essentially acknowledged his offense wasn’t as high-powered or dangerous as the Chiefs when he let time expire to end the first half.
It all makes you wonder about Garoppolo’s actual upside. He’s a good quarterback. Anyone on the 49ers will say that. But he wasn’t good enough to go drive-for-drive with Mahomes to end Super Bowl LIV even after spotting his team a 10-point lead.
At the same time, Garoppolo started his first full season in 2019. It’s entirely possible he’ll improve with more time and as he distances himself from a torn ACL suffered in 2018. But judging from the entirety of the 49ers’ 2019 playoff run, Garoppolo is a quarterback who will need help from a running game and defense to win a Super Bowl. And on Sunday, even that wasn’t enough.
Still, the 49ers are saying all the right things about their quarterback.
“I had all the confidence in the world that he would make plays,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “It’s tough for Jimmy when a ball gets batted down. That’s kind of out of his hands, and he can’t control that. I still think he played a phenomenal game. I mean, he completed like 75 percent of his passes today. We still have all the confidence in the world in Jimmy. He’s our guy no matter what the situation.”
Garoppolo went 20-of-31 for 219 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions overall. It’s OK if Patriots fans are walking away Sunday night feeling a little better about trading away Garoppolo.