3 Ways 49ers Can Get Jimmy Garoppolo Back on Track Before Playoffs

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 29, 2021

3 Ways 49ers Can Get Jimmy Garoppolo Back on Track Before Playoffs

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers face the biggest question at quarterback in the NFC playoff race. 

    Jimmy Garoppolo experienced some struggles in the Week 16 loss to the Tennessee Titans, and he is dealing with an injury issue.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Garoppolo suffered a chipped bone and torn ligament in his right thumb, but he is going to try and play through the injury.

    San Francisco needs to make life as easy as possible for Garoppolo in the next two weeks to secure its spot in the NFC playoff field. 

    The 49ers need to beat the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams to lock in their postseason spot. A loss in either of those two games could make the qualification process more difficult. 

Keep Garoppolo Upright

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    One of the easiest ways to improve Garoppolo's production in the pocket is to keep him upright. 

    San Francisco is 3-4 in games in which Garoppolo has been sacked on multiple occasions. He was taken down twice by the Tennessee Titans in Week 16. 

    Garoppolo suffered his season high of five sacks in two instances over the last two months, courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals

    Garoppolo's health will come into question against Houston and Los Angeles. The easiest way for him to stay healthy is remain upright and work through his progressions. 

    It may seem like a simple strategy, but it is imperative the 49ers keep Garoppolo standing up in the pocket, especially against Aaron Donald and the Rams, to lock in the best possible seed in the NFC postseason. 

Re-Establish Connection with George Kittle

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    George Kittle was absent from San Francisco's offensive game plan in Week 16 because of Tennessee's containment of the middle of the field. 

    Kittle recorded just 21 receiving yards on three catches in the 20-17 loss. The low production came after he had 425 receiving yards in a three-week span. 

    San Francisco is 4-3 when Kittle records at least 50 receiving yards, and it scored 21 points or fewer in three of the five contests in which he had 40 or fewer receiving yards. 

    Re-establishing the strong connection with Kittle is vital to the team's overall success and for Garoppolo's confidence. 

    Garoppolo's deep-throw ability could be affected by his injury, which means he may rely on Kittle more on short-yardage passes across the middle. 

    Kittle should find himself in a larger role in Week 17 against a struggling Texans defense, and he could achieve more success against the Rams in Week 18. He had 50 yards and a score in the Week 10 matchup with Los Angeles. 

Spread the Ball Around More

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    Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

    The 49ers can't rely on just Deebo Samuel and Kittle to thrive in the passing game if they want to win playoff matchups. 

    Garoppolo showed his ability to spread the ball around a bit more in the loss to Tennessee. He picked out Kyle Juszczyk and Brandon Aiyuk for a combined seven receptions on 10 targets. 

    The No. 2 wide receiver and fullback need to be utilized more in the passing game to give Garoppolo more confidence in his collection of targets. 

    San Francisco could also benefit from getting Jauan Jennings more involved. He had two catches on five targets in Tennessee. 

    Garoppolo needs to build up some chemistry with those three players versus Houston and Los Angeles so that he feels comfortable with them in the postseason. 

    If not, opposing defenses could have their way with the 49ers if they slow down Samuel and/or Kittle.