George Kittle Defends 'Incredible' Jimmy Garoppolo: 49ers 'Can Win a Super Bowl'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2021

El quarterback de los 49ers de San Francisco Jimmy Garoppolo y el tight end George Kittle celebran el triunfo de su equipo ante los Packers de Green Bay en el duelo por el campeonato de la NFC, el domingo 19 de enero del 2020. (AP Foto/Ben Margot).
Ben Margot/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle offered a vote of confidence in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday amid speculation that the Niners could be looking to move on from their signal-caller.

According to NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano, Kittle said the following on Good Morning Football: "I still believe in Jimmy G. I think he's an incredible quarterback. I think he can lead us to another Super Bowl. I think we can win a Super Bowl with him. I feel like I've answered this question about 200 times now since I last talked to you guys."

Garoppolo helped lead the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance last year, but he was limited to just six games in 2020 because of injury, marking the second time in three seasons that he spent a significant amount of time on the shelf.

Any talk of the 49ers acquiring a quarterback and parting ways with Jimmy G is primarily speculation, although Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been mentioned often as a potential target for San Francisco.

Cousins could be a sensible fit if the Vikings want to move on from him since 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was Cousins' offensive coordinator with the Washington Football Team from 2012-13.

However, during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport said he doesn't get the sense that the 49ers will make a run at Cousins:

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Matt Ryan could also be a veteran option for the Niners at quarterback since Shanahan was his OC with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and '16.

Even if the 49ers would like to upgrade from Garoppolo to Cousins or Ryan, the possibility of that happening depends largely on the Vikings or Falcons wanting to make a change.

Assuming that doesn't happen, the 49ers may have to stick with the 29-year-old Garoppolo and give him another opportunity to prove he can be a top quarterback in the NFL.

Despite having been in the NFL for seven seasons, Garoppolo has just 32 regular-season starts. That is partially due to the fact that he was a backup with the New England Patriots for three years, but injuries have played a big role as well.

The 2019 campaign stands as the only one in which the former second-round pick started more than six games. He started all 16 contests, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

While the numbers were solid and he guided the Niners to the Super Bowl that season, their playoff run almost happened in spite of the Eastern Illinois product.

In San Francisco's three playoff games last season, Garoppolo attempted 58 passes and threw for 427 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Two of those interceptions were thrown in Super Bowl 54, and they played a big role in allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to come from behind and win.

In the six games Garoppolo started this season before an ankle injury ended his year prematurely, he completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 1,096 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions while posting a 3-3 record.

Garoppolo has proved that he can take a team deep in the playoffs if his running game and defense are firing on all cylinders, but he isn't likely to win many games on his own.

The AFC and NFC Championship Games this season featured arguably the four best quarterbacks in the NFL, and if that trend continues, it would be understandable for the 49ers to consider wanting to make an upgrade.