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SF 49ers: How long is Kyle Shanahan’s leash on Jimmy Garoppolo?

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After the SF 49ers’ ugly Week 1 loss to the Cardinals, it’s safe to wonder what Kyle Shanahan thinks of Jimmy Garoppolo, both in 2020 and beyond.

No, this isn’t an SF 49ers overreaction piece after the Niners coughed up multiple leads en route to an embarrassing 24-20 Week 1 loss to the visiting Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

And it’s certainly not a proverbial “call to the pen” for head coach Kyle Shanahan to swap out his starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, for his primary backup, Nick Mullens, as many a Twitter pundit might like to see in the hours and days following a shoddy performance from the Niners QB.

But in light of a lot of the evidence, it is fair to wonder whether or not Shanahan is growing impatient with his starting quarterback.

From a statistical vantage point, Garoppolo’s efforts in Week 1 weren’t bad at all. He went 19-of-33 for 259 yards, two touchdowns against zero interceptions and posted a passer rating of 103.0. Tack on San Francisco’s short-handed situation at wide receiver, a third-string center and some of Shanahan’s own questionable play-calling, and it’s foolish to place the entire blame squarely on Jimmy G’s shoulders.

Still, as Niner Noise’s Marc Delucchi pointed out, a massive chunk of the blame does hinge on Garoppolo.

As does Pro Football Focus’ Week 1 recap of Garoppolo’s efforts:

Despite being under pressure on only nine of his 37 dropbacks, did not fare well. Garoppolo completed none of his four attempts of 20 or more yards downfield. His grade of 49.8 as a passer was better than only Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold of all NFL QBs in Week 1. He also was responsible for one of the Cardinals’ three sacks.

It was a bad game from Jimmy G. No getting around that. And he’ll have a chance to correct things in Week 2 against a lowly New York Jets squad, so there’s room for optimism.

Still, it’s fair to wonder just how patient Shanahan will be with Garoppolo over the course of the season. The head coach’s comments about Garoppolo after the game were pointed, yet fair:

He had some good plays in there, but just like the entire offense, just missed a number of opportunities that it was going to take to win that game. We had a couple there, but he’s got to play better. We’ve all got to play better on offense, especially, and it starts with me.

In that regard, Shanahan isn’t shying away from the fact a $137.5 million quarterback needs to improve in those situations, but he’s also careful not to place sole blame on Garoppolo either.

That’s good. But will it last forever?

 

Jimmy Garoppolo’s impact for SF 49ers the last four games

Last season, in the NFC divisional round, Garoppolo attempted only 19 passes as the Niners gouged the Minnesota Vikings on the ground. A week later against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game, Garoppolo was asked to do even less as running back Raheem Mostert ran wild for the 37-20 SF 49ers win.

In that game, Garoppolo had just eight pass attempts.

But the run game didn’t quite carry San Francisco enough in the Super Bowl, partially due to Shanahan’s play-calling late in the game, and Garoppolo’s own efforts weren’t enough to put the 49ers on his shoulders.

Again, something you’d want to expect from a signal-caller in an upper tier of quarterbacks, especially from the financial vantage point.

In some ways, Week 1 emulated Garoppolo’s struggles against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. A number of throws were wildly inaccurate, and Garoppolo’s poise within the pocket was lacking, too. When he had the opportunity for a big play to happen, both in the Super Bowl and in Week 1, it didn’t materialize.

Just ask former 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from last February and current Niners wideout Kendrick Bourne after Week 1.

Yet the overall gist of Shanahan’s patience could come down to money, which becomes a major factor in 2021.

Garoppolo is due up to $26.9 million next season, which accounts for 12.5 percent of the team’s current projected spending next season. But he also carries zero in guaranteed money for the next two years, and the Niners could save $24.1 million in 2021 against $2.8 million in dead money. The numbers change to $25.6 million and $1.4 million, respectively, in 2022.

For a Niners team thinking about eventual extensions down the road for linebacker Fred Warner, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and EDGE Nick Bosa, it’s not impossible to think Shanahan could be looking at life after Garoppolo sooner than later.

Next: 4 tweaks Kyle Shanahan can make to 49ers roster after Week 1 loss

And performances like the one seen last Sunday won’t help make Shanahan think Garoppolo is the option needed under center.

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Buffalo Bills: 3 ways to slow down Aaron Donald in Week 3

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INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 13: Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes during a 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

These are three ways the Buffalo Bills can try to slow down Los Angeles Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald in Week 3.

The Buffalo Bills offense, specifically their passing attack, is off to a fast start. The development of Josh Allen, combined with the addition of Stefon Diggs, is paying huge dividends. Through the first two weeks, Allen is leading the league in passing yards with 727 yards and has thrown six touchdowns with no interceptions. Meanwhile, Diggs is tied for the league lead in receiving yards with 239.

This week though the Buffalo Bills face a different challenge as they face the Los Angeles Rams, and specifically defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He is one of the best defensive players in the NFL and has won NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career.

The impact he has on a game is rarely seen from a defensive tackle and earlier this week offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had the perfect answer when asked how to stop Aaron Donald.

While it is unlikely that Aaron Donald misses the bus, there are some ways that Brian Daboll can help this offense limit what the Rams defensive tackle is able to do in this game.

Assuming that the Buffalo Bills are going to regularly assign two blockers to Aaron Donald, these are three additional ways that the Bills can limit his impact.

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3 bold predictions for the Carolina Panthers in Week 3

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(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brian Burns

The Carolina Panthers will be looking to avoid their first 0-3 start to the season since 2010 when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Chargers.

It’s never a good idea to make hasty proclamations in the first quarter for the season, but Week 3 could prove to be make-or-break for the Carolina Panthers.

Looking at the schedule ahead, this contest may be the most winnable game the Carolina Panthers will have in a long time. The next four opponents are a combined 5-3 so far and after that, more tough teams will arise in the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints.

If the Panthers want to win, they’ll have to take advantage of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert who performed well against the Chiefs last week.

On the offensive side, Carolina will have to face a scrappy Chargers defense without the services of their best player, running back Christian McCaffrey. Making matters worse, the Chargers possess perhaps the best pass rush threat the Panthers have faced so far, led by Joey Bosa.

History is well on the Panthers’ side this week. Carolina has dominated the Chargers, winning five out of six meetings, including a 3-0 record on the road and a current three-game winning streak.

Continuing this may rely heavily on offensive creativity and capitalizing on Herbert’s inexperience.

Here are a couple of other fun facts: this will be the Panthers’ very first game in the new SoFi stadium, the Chargers’ brand new home that they share with the LA Rams.

And as of now, this is also the only 4.05 PM EST game Carolina will play all year. And here are three big and bold predictions for Sunday’s matchup.

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Packers: Fans will be in attendance for road game against Bucs

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There will be fans in attendance for the Packers’ Week 6 game versus the Bucs.

The Green Bay Packers will play in a stadium with fans for the first time of the season when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6.

According to NFL.com, the Bucs will be allowing fans at Raymond James Stadium starting in their Week 4 home game against the Los Angeles Chargers. In Week 6 against the Packers, the expectation is that they will have roughly 25 percent capacity filled.

As strange as it would’ve sounded at the start of the year, the Packers will play their first five games without any fans in attendance.

Tomorrow night’s game against the New Orleans Saints will be played with no fans, and the Packers won’t have any fans in attendance at Lambeau Field next week against the Atlanta Falcons. They will then be on bye in Week 5 before heading to Florida to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 6.

The Packers have already played in one indoor stadium, a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1. They will be indoors again tomorrow against the Saints, and no fans in attendance takes away a huge home-field advantage.

It’ll be interesting to see a game with 25 percent capacity. It’ll likely be louder than with no fans and crowd noise playing through the speakers, but it’s also going to be much quieter than a normal game-day, so the Packers shouldn’t need to use their silent count.

It remains to be seen whether the Packers will be able to have fans in attendance at Lambeau Field this season. They announced before the season that there would be no fans for the opening two games, the first of which was last week’s victory against the Detroit Lions.

We know there will be no fans next week against the Falcons. The team’s next home game isn’t until Week 8 against the Vikings.

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