It appears the 49ers have finally located a QB.
In three games as the starter, Jimmy Garoppolo has been virtually unstoppable. He’s had two 300+ yard passing games, an almost extinct achievement this century. Two 4th quarter game winning drives with less than two minutes to play. Three straight victories.
The only thing slowing him down so far is the opponents’ twenty yard line. In seven trips there on Sunday, only once did the Niners reach the end zone. Yet somehow, the kicker who missed a chip shot game winning FG two years ago for Chicago, Robbie Gould, has transformed himself into Adam Vinatieri, hitting 15 straight FGs and two game winners in the past three victories. Yesterday, Gould hit six three pointers.
Also emerging from sustained obscurity is TE Garrett Celek. He has labored for six years as the 49er also ran TE, used mainly for blocking, while the team tried to turn Vance McDonald into a big time player. But since Garoppolo took the helm, Celek has looked almost Gronk-like, catching big pass after big pass.
Marquise Goodwin caught 10 passes for 116 yards Sunday, but just about any guy they throw out there as a receiver has made plays. Aldrick Robinson, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor — none of these fellows is a household name even to themselves. But they’ve all made an impact in the past three games.
With four wins, the team has doubled its total from last season. The first upward movement in almost four years. If they add any more in the final two games, it will be at the expense of the 10-4 Jaguars and/or the 10-4 Rams. Each of those teams absolutely destroyed their opponents Sunday, with the Rams beating the 49er nemesis Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle and the Jaguars stomping Houston 45-7. Garoppolo beat Houston 26-16 last Sunday, but has yet to face the Seahawks.
Anyway you look at it, the NFC West is undergoing a seismic shift in talent this year. The Seahawks and Cardinals are falling, and the Rams and 49ers are rising. Actually, the Rams have already risen. The 49ers will have to wait until next year to see how much of a contender they will be.
At the moment, however, they are definitely trending upward.