Earlier this week Kyle Shanahan announced to reporters that Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start Sunday in Chicago over CJ Beathard. Garoppolo entered the game late last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks — and he did not disappoint. In under two minutes, Garoppolo went 2/2 for 18 yards, 1 touchdown, and a 100 QBR/143.8 RTG. All of the Faithful were certainly more than pleased to possibly be finally getting a glimpse of the quarterback of the future. Also, it is worth mentioning that Jimmy Garoppolo is from Chicago, so it is only fitting that his first start with the 49ers comes in his hometown.
Let’s take a look at the match-ups that will decide the game on Sunday.
*All grades are courtesy of Pro Football Focus and will be next to the respective players in parenthesis accordingly*
Without a doubt, the 49ers passing game will be the main focus of fans everywhere. As I mentioned before, QB Jimmy Garoppolo (53.7) is getting his first career start, so everyone will be tuning in to see what he’s capable of. In the small sample size we all got last week, Garoppolo more than held his own — throwing a touchdown pass against a unit that had not allowed a 49ers WR to catch a TD pass since 2010!
Although the 49ers are without their best receiver, Pierre Garçon, for the rest of the season, there is still hope for Garoppolo. Marquise Goodwin (73.6) is an absolute speedster as we all know, and his ability to take the top off the defense matched with Garoppolo’s ability to accurately deliver the deep ball could be the perfect combination for the 49ers. Last Sunday against the Seahawks, newly-signed Louis Murphy (72.7) got the start opposite of Goodwin. The unit is rounded out with Trent Taylor (48.7), Aldrick Robinson (44.3), Kendrick Bourne (50.3) and Victor Bolden Jr. (57.4). The 49ers also contain a TE group of: George Kittle (43.0), Garrett Celek (59.9) & Logan Paulsen (57.3).
Garoppolo and the 49ers receivers will be facing a defensive-back unit featuring the likes of: CB Prince Amukamara (79.1), CB Marcus Cooper (47.5), CB Kyle Fuller (48.7), CB Bryce Callahan (77.3), S Adrian Amos (92.3), S Eddie Jackson (72.4). The highest rated of the group per Pro Football Focus is S Adrian Amos, who has been balling this season. Garoppolo would be wise to try to stay away from Amos (unless he’s absolutely confident in his throw).
Personally, I’d bet on Garoppolo coming out and flat-out balling. I have a feeling he has a solid grasp of the playbook at this point, and even if not, Shanahan has already stated whatever they do include in the gameplan on Sunday will be what Jimmy G has down “100%”. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the 49ers go deep fairly often Sunday.
Running Game & Offensive-Line
49ers RB Carlos Hyde (47.3) has been feasting in Shanahan’s offense this year — even as a receiver out of the backfield. Hyde has set career highs this season in receptions already, and that number looks to only go up with Jimmy G under center. Hyde will also get the benefit of teams having to respect Garoppolo as a passer, and therefor not being able to stack the box every single play. Hyde is backed up by rookie Matt Breida (73.0) and has FB Kyle Juszczyk (56.5) clearing the way in front of him.
The 49ers called up RB Jeremy McNichols from their practice squad to the 53-man roster ahead of Sunday’s game in Chicago. McNichols was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round, yet he didn’t end up making the final roster cuts. Although he only totaled 79 yards on 24 rushing attempts in the preseason (also 0 receptions), McNichols had quite a successful career at Boise State — he rushed for over 3,000 yards and totaled 43 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Boise State. So, we all know the potential is there, and it’ll be interesting to see him get a shot in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Although to be honest, we might not be able to get to see him this week as he might be inactive come Sunday.
The 49ers offensive-line has been almost a game of musical chairs so far this season. They’ve been ravaged by injuries and incapable linemen. The projected starting lineup against the Bears consists of: LT Joe Staley (78.2), LG Laken Tomlinson (46.9), C Daniel Kilgore (43.8), RG Brandon Fusco (76.8), RT Trent Brown (79.6). Although there is some uncertainty if Trent Brown will play, as he missed some practice this week.
The 49ers will be going up against a Bears defensive-line consisting of: DE Akiem Hicks (86.7), DE Mitch Unrein (84.8), NT Eddie Goldman (80.0), LOLB Pernell McPhee (79.1) & ROLB Sam Acho (73.5). This Bears defensive-line might just be their best unit of the entire team. The worst starters among this group are still above the league-average. They also have an inside-linebacking corps made up of: LILB Nick Kwiatkoski (79.3) and RILB Danny Trevathan (84.5).
I think we can say the same thing that we’ve been saying for just about the entire season — the 49ers offensive-line will likely have their hands full all day Sunday.
I think the 49ers will come out of Soldier Field with a win on Sunday. I think we’ll see a hell of a first start for Garoppolo, which in turn will inspire the rest of the team to play better. The defense will likely not be on the field as long as they have been all season, so they won’t be as gassed come the fourth quarter. I think we’ll see a good game from both quarterbacks, but it’ll end with Jimmy G getting the better of Mitch Trubisky.
Let us know what you guys think! Tweet us your individual and team predictions @Nothingbut9ers! If you correctly predict Jimmy G’s stats (or get the closest to it) you’ll win a Dwight Clark Day #87 (size XL) shirt from NB9ers! You literally have nothing to lose, so tweet us those predictions Faithful!
27-24 – 49ers
Jimmy G: 25/40, 250 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT