For Jimmy Garappolo, it’s not about putting up the flashy numbers, or making the big-time highlights, it’s about being clutch when it matters most.
So far this season, we haven’t seen the big numbers from Garoppolo that everyone has been clamoring for (minus the Arizona game). However, we have seen clutch throws when it matters most. This is a trait that very few QBs carry within themselves in the NFL.
What fundamentally helps a QB earn his money? Being clutch and winning games.
As a starter for the 49ers, Jimmy’s record is an astounding 14-2. Within those 14 wins, he has led numerous game-winning drives already. Even if his box score stats don’t show it, he is living up to the lucrative contract he was signed to.
What about being clutch? Jimmy is notably one of the best QBs when completing passes on third down for a first down. This season, he is converting third down passes into first downs at an astonishing 55.6 %, which leads the NFL. Jimmy’s ability to make big throws is ultimately what will help carry this team to the playoffs and beyond.
To put this into perspective via career numbers, Garoppolo has completed 65% of his passes on third down – a key part of converting on third downs. This is the highest of any 49ers quarterback since the numbers starting being tracked in 1994, and includes Steve Young.
Furthermore, out of 90 career completed passes on third down from Garoppolo, 70 of them have gone for first downs. This shows the importance of completing passes as well as Garoppolo’s ability to make throws both beyond the sticks and into areas that receivers can get yards after the catch.
Most significantly, Garoppolo is the best 49ers quarterback since 1994 at converting third downs overall. He converts 47.02% of third down plays; Steve Young is next best at 42.17%. Even when compared with recent greats, Garoppolo stands out. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have converted third downs at just over 42% throughout their careers. Patrick Mahomes converts third downs 46.12% of the time.
Even with the small sample size, I believe that this is a fantastic barometer into what we can expect from Jimmy in terms of his success on third down.
Many people questioned the contract that Lynch and Co. signed Garoppolo to. However, if he continues to make plays when it matters most, there should be no complaints regarding his ability. Even if he is “due” for a bad or questionable throw once or twice a game, this doesn’t affect his overall big-play ability and game managing. It’s obvious that he can still get the job done.
With a QB of his caliber exceeding expectations, Jimmy has proven that he can lead this team to victory. Not many QBs can convert the way he does, and if he continues, the 49ers will be looking at a playoff bye, and possibly a deep playoff run.