Can new franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo solve the San Francisco 49ers’ third-down efficiency problems? In this segment, we break down how Garoppolo uses his athleticism to recover from mistakes.
This is the fifth installment in a series analyzing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s success on third downs. You can check out the first four here:
1. 49ers film room: Garoppolo’s success on third downs
2. 49ers film room: Garoppolo’s pre-snap adjustments
3. 49ers film room: Garoppolo’s pre-snap reads
4. 49ers film room: Garoppolo extending plays
The following play will test Garoppolo’s ability to use his athleticism to recover from a mistake, extend the play, and then connect with a receiver who finds a hole in the defense.
The Patriots have a third-and-nine from Miami’s 36-yard line. New England is in 11 personnel, with Garoppolo in the shotgun. The Patriots have wide receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan lined up on the wide side of the field, and running back James White and receiver Malcolm Mitchell on the short side, along with tight end Martellus Bennett.
The Miami Dolphins are in nickel personnel, with two safeties lined up 12 yards from the line of scrimmage. With Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi slow to shift to the sideline to cover White, Miami is more likely playing Cover-2 than 2-Man:
Garoppolo first motions White into the backfield, and then motions Edelman behind Hogan just as the ball is snapped. The Patriots — expecting that the Dolphins are playing Cover-2 — are running a smash concept variation with the two receivers; if inside corner Bobby McCain stays underneath and doesn’t follow Edelman, outside corner Byron Maxwell will be caught vertically between Hogan’s curl route and Edelman’s corner route. On the opposite side, Mitchell will try to get outside of cornerback Xavien Howard as he works his way down the field, forcing Howard to either follow him — opening up the flat for White — or let him go — giving Mitchell the open sideline:
The Dolphins are indeed playing Cover-2, but with their boundary corners sinking deep, just beyond the first-down marker:
Garoppolo takes the snap, and looks to his left to his first read. Miami has Edelman’s corner route covered, with McCain redirecting Edelman to the outside, Howard sinking back, and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus heading toward the sideline. Garoppolo sees that Hogan is initially open on the curl, but as he waits for Howard to commit, the quarterback begins to drift to his left:
By the time Garoppolo is ready to make the pass, he has defensive end Jason Jones in his face, swiping for the ball:
As Garoppolo ducks away from Jones, he runs right into defensive end Cameron Wake, who tries to take the quarterback down. Garoppolo sidesteps Wake, and immediately looks downfield for a target beyond the sticks. Bennett looks for the dumpoff, ignoring linebacker Kiko Alonso, who makes a beeline for the scrambling quarterback.
Garoppolo finds Mitchell, who has worked his way open in front of safety Reshad Jones. Garoppolo throws across his body with accuracy, just before he’s hit by Alonso:
Garoppolo puts the ball where only his receiver can catch it, and the Patriots have a 14-yard completion for a first down:
An inexperienced quarterback is expected to make mistakes. Here, Garoppolo uses his athleticism to recover from his mistake — keeps his eyes downfield — and then completes the pass for a first down:
Now that we have some film on Jimmy Garoppolo in a San Francisco 49ers’ uniform, we’ll next take a look at the quarterback’s performance in Week 12.