San Francisco 49ers

Sigh of relief: Jimmy Garoppolo looks like old self in return to Kansas City

49ers Jimmy Garoppolo talks third preseason game against the Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked like his old self in his return to Kansas City in the third preseason game Saturday night against the Chiefs.
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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked like his old self in his return to Kansas City in the third preseason game Saturday night against the Chiefs.

Perhaps Kyle Shanahan was right when he said it was “irresponsible” to overreact to Jimmy Garoppolo’s preseason debut.

After completing just 1 of 6 passes for zero yards Monday against the Broncos, the 49ers’ franchise quarterback looked closer to his former self Saturday night in Kansas City on the same field he suffered his left ACL tear last September.

Garoppolo played the entire first half against the Chiefs, completing 14 of 20 for 188 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass and no interceptions for a 116.2 passer rating.

Garoppolo was a vastly different player after looking skittish in his 2019 debut in Denver five days prior. Here’s a quick recap of his night.

Garoppolo’s first drive ended in a turnover on downs when Shanahan decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Kansas City’s 30-yard line, giving the quarterback his first fourth-down attempt of the preseason. Garoppolo had his pass knocked down by Chris Jones, marking the third time in two games a defensive tackle batted one of his passes at the line of scrimmage.

Garoppolo started 3 of 6 for 32 yards, while some of his passes were a touch wobbly and behind his intended targets. His best throw of the possession was a third-down conversion to Marquise Goodwin along the left sideline.

But Garoppolo started to look like his old self on the second drive. He completed all four of his throws, including a 16-yarder to Dante Pettis to the right side and an impressive 33-yard connection to Richie James Jr. lofted between two defenders deep downfield.

On the next play, Garoppolo threw another long pass to the opposite side finding diving Matt Breida for Garoppolo’s first touchdown pass since he played in Kansas City last September.

After two series, Garoppolo completed 7 of 10 for 107 yards, a touchdown and a 138.3 passer rating.

Garoppolo didn’t complete a pass on his third series. The 49ers started with a 7-yard run from Breida, and then Ross Dwelley dropped a slightly wide throw in the right flat. Frank Clark on third-and-3 dropped Garoppolo for a sack beating left tackle Joe Staley. It was the first hit Garoppolo took this preseason.

Garoppolo opened his fourth possession passing to rookie Deebo Samuel, his second completion to the second-round pick on the night, which went for 21 yards on a curl route in the middle of the field. Garoppolo found Pettis for his second catch of the game for 13 yards and another first down a play later.

San Francisco’s drive stalled at the Chiefs’ 11-yard line when Dwelley dropped another catchable pass in tight coverage from safety Daniel Sorensen. Garoppolo completed three of his four passes on the drive. The 49ers came away with a field goal giving them points on two of their four possessions to start the game.

Garoppolo’s stat line after four series and 31 snaps: 10 of 15, 145 yards, a touchdown and a 120.1 rating. He had completions to seven different targets, with Dwelley being the eighth (Dwelley was the target on three of Garoppolo’s five interceptions during his infamous practice earlier this month while George Kittle was out with a calf injury).

But Garoppolo finally connected with Dwelley during a two-minute drive to end the half. He found the tight end for a 23-yard pass over the middle and then a 7-yarder on the next play.

Perhaps Garoppolo’s worst decision of the night came with 23 seconds remaining as he looked for Pettis in triple coverage at the goal line. Fortunately for Garoppolo, it fell incomplete and the 49ers settled for Robbie Gould’s second field goal. They entered halftime leading 13-10.

San Francisco punted on one of their five possessions, and three series netted points. Garoppolo played 37 snaps in the first half. He was replaced by Nick Mullens to open the third quarter.

Garoppolo appeared as rhythm while Shanahan opened up the offense and called more diverse plays than the previous game against the Broncos when Garoppolo threw exclusively from shotgun and passed from empty backfields.

Garoppolo also had improved play from his offensive line, save for the sack, while getting starting right guard Mike Person back in action after he missed the Broncos game with a foot injury.