Shanahan’s ‘plan’ didn’t break Jimmy Garoppolo, it only strengthened 49ers QB


There’s only one word for the master plan that brought the 49ers to the NFL Championship Game.

Kraxy. (A word popularized in the Bay Area by Deebo Samuel.)

The 49ers plan is kraxy as a foz.

Or lucky as a leprechaun.

Somehow, the 49ers have survived and thrived, while pursuing a quarterbacking “plan” that seems as wise and well thought out as riding through a minefield on a pogo stick.

The 49ers find themselves playing for the NFL championship on Sunday even though their quarterback is a punching bag for critics and various analysts, at least in part because of the team’s quarterback circus.

It’s the miracle of the NFL season that the 49ers didn’t implode or explode from self-inflicted drama.

A brief overview of the unconventional path to success along which the 49ers led Jimmy Garoppolo:

• At the start of the 2017 season, although it looks like Garoppolo will soon inherit the Patriots starting job from former Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick trades Garoppolo to the 49ers, the league’s worst team, in exchange a bag of popcorn (or draft pick equivalent).

• The 49ers are welcoming Garoppolo, but no one is hiding that Garoppolo’s arrival means coach Kyle Shanahan’s long-held dream of landing Kirk Cousins ​​has been dashed by Belichick’s surprise gift.

• After guiding the 49ers to a Super Bowl, Garoppolo can see his coach and general manager kicking the tires of former Tom Brady very vigorously.

• The following season, the 49ers call Green Bay to inquire about Aaron Rodgers. They also make a run at Matthew Stafford.

• Set to burst into the 2021 season as a strong Super Bowl contender, the 49ers trade three future No. 1 picks for quarterback Trey Lance. What makes Garoppolo? Well, if he looks like a lame duck and quacks like a lame duck…

• Shanahan announces that Garoppolo is the starter, but Lance will certainly play in certain situations. Shanahan does not refute widespread speculation that he will move Lance into the starting job as soon as he looks ready. Charlatan!

• General manager John Lynch says Garoppolo’s lame duck status will not undermine his confidence. In fact, says Lynch, Jimmy plays better when someone pushes him. What any other QB would read there: Your inner fire won’t toast a marshmallow unless your job is threatened.

It seems the 49ers have gone to extraordinary lengths to dampen their quarterback’s spirit. Not that quarterbacks are a bunch of divas or anything.

And yet, Garoppolo is set to lead his team onto Levi’s South Field at Sofi Stadium on Sunday, in front of an adoring crowd of 49ers fans, many of whom, given the choice, would have benched Garoppolo five games into the season, at last.

About halfway through the season, Shanahan began to rally behind Garoppolo, giving “He’s our guy” speeches. But Shanahan also said the reason he took Lance out of the picture as a situational underdog was because switching quarterbacks, even for a game or two, upset his pace of play. Bill Walsh s returned to his grave.

When Garoppolo injured his hand and then his shoulder, Shanahan made it clear that Jimmy would start if he could drag himself onto the court. It may be a lame duck, Shanahan seemed to say, but it is our lame duck.

The 49ers quarterback’s situation could easily have fallen into the “distraction” category, but Garoppolo and his teammates don’t seem distracted. On the contrary, they seem more focused and united than ever. The plan is working!

It’s possible that all the turmoil swirling around the quarterback position has made the 49ers and Garoppolo stronger. Certainly, it inspired the 49ers to rally around their quarterback and buddy. His teammates are so motivated to defend Garoppolo against Twiter’s enemies that they’re ready to break through a brick wall for him, always Forty-Niner has Kool-Aid Man, all for Jimmy G.

Garoppolo’s critical sniping is fuel for the 49ers, who will storm LA with confidence in a quarterback whose stats and penchant for errors might otherwise be cause for concern.

Garoppolo is 4-1 as the 49ers playoff quarterback, but his 63.0 passer rating in those games is less than half Matthew Stafford’s 131.5 playoff rating . Garoppolo has two touchdowns and five interceptions in those five games. His playoff yards per game (passing and rushing combined) is 146.4 yards, which ranks him 83rd out of 88 Super Bowl-era quarterbacks with five or more starts (according to AP’s Josh Dubow) .

The 49ers don’t care. Jimmy is their man. He showed courage playing despite the pain of hand and shoulder injuries. Also, athletes tend to be superstitious, and maybe Garoppolo is the 49ers’ rabbit foot. Other than in the tragic Super Bowl fourth quarter two seasons ago, the 49ers win when Garoppolo shows up.

On Sunday, at the end of a long and strange journey, he will show himself.

Scott Ostler is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @scottostler


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