Football

At 4-0 with Garoppolo, 49ers not naive enough to think they are done

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates during the second half of a 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Santa Clara, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. Garoppolo has won all four of his starts for the 49ers, changing the dynamic for a team that started the season 0-9.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates during the second half of a 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Santa Clara, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. Garoppolo has won all four of his starts for the 49ers, changing the dynamic for a team that started the season 0-9. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pay him. Lock him up long term. Get a deal done. For the 49ers, that’s the easy part when it comes to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s not a novel concept, not any more. The guy is 6-0 now as a starting quarterback in the NFL, 4-0 with the 49ers after they put up 44 points on Jacksonville, one of the best defenses in the league.

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I know it’s a small sample size, but Garoppolo has flashed from the start. I saw the first game that he played, and he threw three passes that guys just don’t make routinely.

Two times he had a free rusher in the A gap right in his face and he made two incredible throws over the middle, right on the money. He took a shot and both times still made a heck of a throw. Then, on another one, same play, he was able to get out of pressure, escape, bought some time kind of like what Carson Wentz was able to do this year, what Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson and those guys who can extend a play do, and made another really nice throw to the sideline.

You see plays like that and you really don’t even have to watch the rest of the game.

Agreeing on a new contract with Garoppolo is the first thing the 49ers will want to do this offseason.

Jaguars 49ers Football
San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan works the sideline during a 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Santa Clara, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. The victory was the fourth in a row for the 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at quarterback. Marcio Jose Sanchez ASSOCIATED PRESS

I think (general manager) John Lynch and (coach) Kyle Shanahan are both smart enough to realize that and I think they’ll get a long-term deal done.

The tougher part is what comes next to improve that roster, but I think they have a good feel for what they want to do. They’re not naive enough to think, “We’ve had really good success, let’s not change anything.”

In the draft (though they gave up that second-round pick for Garoppolo, which is a steal as everyone looks at it now), I think they take their first-round pick and go after an interior lineman because they have been one of the worst teams in the league there when it comes down to it.

At NFL.com, Shaun O’Hara and David Diehl do a lot of in-depth study of those guys and the 49ers are near the middle or the bottom every week. The 49ers have Joe Staley and they have some pieces there, but I think they can really bolster their offense in free agency or through the draft if they get at least two solid interior offensive linemen to really help get Garoppolo some time to step up in the pocket. It also will help running back Carlos Hyde find some more running lanes.

I think if they improve that and get wide receiver Pierre Garcon back, they will have some speed on the outside and some shiftiness at the slot positions. I like some of the young guys they have at receiver, so they don’t have to do too much.

Defensively, they have some good pieces – that’s a young, scary defense that’s only going to improve.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) fires a pass in a 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Santa Clara, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. Garoppolo completed 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars and is now 4-0 as a starter in San Francisco. Tony Avelar ASSOCIATED PRESS

With a week left in the season, the 49ers have 20 guys on injured reserve. Compare that to the other teams in that division. It’s the most, by far.

The Rams, they have eight. And several of those guys for the 49ers are key players – defensive linemen, offensive linemen, wide receivers. Garcon at this point is still one of the most consistent ball catchers in the league. He doesn’t drop anything. He’s great for that wide receiver room as far as getting those young guys on the same page and making sure they’re paying attention.

A guy like Garcon is priceless. Having him back I think would be amazing, because we haven’t even seen him run with Garoppolo yet.

I think that people are starting to see that this team is not as far away as they might have thought. But they’ll know the pieces they need to put in place.

Shanahan has been in great offenses – last year he was in Atlanta with the Falcons and they were putting up crazy numbers. He knows the kind of pieces they need. As far as the talent, you look at that offense in Atlanta compared to the offense they have in San Francisco right now, it’s not even close.

Everybody would take the Atlanta Falcons’ roster, so Shanahan knows what its going to take to get to the Super Bowl, what kind of pieces they’re going to have to have.

Titans 49ers Football
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, left, shakes hands with offensive guard Zane Beadles after a 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Santa Clara. D. Ross Cameron ASSOCIATED PRESS

But again with Garoppolo, just get a deal done.

I think quarterbacks contracts are interesting. For us as quarterbacks, we see the length of the contract and the amount of money not as, “OK, we wanted to be here that long and we wanted that much money.” It’s not about that. It’s how much do we mean to you? That’s what it comes down to.

Jimmy Garoppolo, if you want him to be his best, give him a five-year deal at the going rate for a quarterback, and I think everyone is happy.

You don’t have to worry about it anymore. He can walk right back in that building as soon as the last game is over and start training, knowing that the contract is not a situation, is not an issue at all. and you go from there.

Question of the week

From Charlie Asher: I was wondering what was your highest as well as your lowest moment on the football field?

The highest moment, there are probably two. My first game in the NFL against the Cowboys, when nobody picked us to win when I was in Houston, and we beat them. My family was in the stands … a lot of Cowboys’ fans in my family, so we were conflicted.

But that is probably a tie with running onto the field after the ball fell incomplete to (Rob Gronkowski) in the Super Bowl. Winning that first game in Houston against the Cowboys and then winning the Super Bowl, those are pretty fantastic.

The lowest moment was probably my junior year in college when we lost to Ohio State and I threw four interceptions and got knocked all over the place and I thought we were going to be terrible. That was the first game my junior year and it ended up working out OK. We ended up playing pretty good football after that. We beat Cal later on, a couple of weeks later. But that was probably the lowest.

That was my first start. I thought, “Oh, this is going to be great.” Little did I know that first starts for quarterbacks don’t always turn out great, especially in the Horseshoe against that team. But it was a good learning experience and it was an incredible place to play. I learned a lot in that game. Those can be tough experiences, but priceless.

David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital

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