SANTA CLARA, Calif. — He is a 315-pound towering of a man, and he had usually spent three-and-a-half hours impeded by circumstance, carrying stood his belligerent opposite a NFL’s many statistically fearsome defense. And yet, as San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley shimmied off a Levi’s Stadium territory late Sunday afternoon, he felt an unknown levity of being — and smiled like a child racing to a tree on Christmas morning.
“Football’s fun again!” Staley declared, by approach of explanation, as he neared a hovel during a south finish zone. And nonetheless it seemed like an apparent question, it was my journalistic avocation to ask for clarification: How many of that has to do with a participation of No. 10?
Staley’s answer, in a word: “Everything.”
As an 11-year maestro who has gifted a NFL’s highs and lows, and all in between, Staley has any forgive to be cloyed — generally as his Niners finish out a losing deteriorate that will leave them sealed out of a playoffs for a fourth uninterrupted January. Instead, like his teammates, coaches, a 70,133 fans in assemblage Sunday and football-watchers everywhere, he’s got Jimmy G. Fever, and he is not in hunt of a cure.
In a diversion that supposing serve justification that San Francisco has found a authorization quarterback, and served as a best probable Christmas Eve present for a undone fan base, a 49ers rolled to a 44-33 victory over a Jacksonville Jaguars. It was an outcome which, on paper, defied logic: Earlier Sunday, a Jags (10-5) had clinched their initial multiplication pretension given 1999, while a Niners (5-10) have merely been messing adult their breeze position for a past month.
And yet, this diversion pronounced everything about a 49ers’ future, that now looks brighter than a North Pole after a uninformed cloak of snow: Between a schematic luminosity of rookie manager Kyle Shanahan and a cold pointing of a immature male now executing his offense, this was a Sunday smackdown steeped in giddiness.
“He’s doing all we hoped for, and more,” Shanahan pronounced of Jimmy Garoppolo as he sat during a table of his private sauce room during Levi’s on Sunday evening. “And all a guys around him — we can’t even explain to we how many improved everybody is personification given he got here. He has burnished off on everyone. It’s too bad we have to take a mangle here soon.”
It might be a good thing for a rest of a NFL that a 49ers won’t extend their deteriorate over subsequent Sunday’s culmination opposite a newly crowned NFC West-champion Rams in Los Angeles. They’re now 4-0 given handing a round to Garoppolo, a small some-more than a month after trade a second-round breeze collect to a New England Patriots to acquire a 26-year-old quarterback.
And while Garoppolo had shown good promise at a start of final deteriorate while stuffing in for dangling destiny first-ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady, a violence he’s now inspiring in Northern California is now next-level. He’s now something of a cranky between Santa Claus and Steph Curry, and gaining steam.
From using behind Carlos Hyde’s commercial that the Niners will win subsequent season’s Super Bowl, to a caustic (but usually partially so) ‘MVP’ chants emanating from a Levi’s throng with 10 mins remaining, to a holiday-themed “Jimmy Jesus” nickname being tossed around a press box, any emergence of patience has prolonged given been whisked divided in a wind.
“It’s exciting, man,” Staley pronounced afterwards. “I was revelation a descent line coach, we wish it was Week 6. we can’t wait — subsequent year’s gonna be flattering special. Now a pressure’s on a rest of us: We can’t [screw] it up!”
Even better, for a initial time in 4 Decembers, a Niners will control into a offseason but conducting a hunt for a new control coach. And nonetheless Shanahan struggled by a 1-10 start, he’s now demonstrating a confidant luminosity he showcased as a Atlanta Falcons’ descent coordinator final deteriorate — well, during slightest until Brady and a Patriots unexpected and stunningly stomped on his Super Bowl buzz.
Now that Shanahan has his apparent authorization quarterback, things are expected to get a lot worse on hostile defensive coordinators, as a Jaguars’ Todd Wash can attest.
“He’s personification unequivocally well,” maestro Jags center linebacker Paul Posluszny pronounced of Garoppolo (21 of 30, 242 yards, dual touchdowns, one interception) following Sunday’s game. “But they did all a tough s—, a things that stresses a defense. They know a invulnerability so well, and they kept us off balance. They’d run a round with a Y (receiver) entrance opposite a formation; they’d run a play that looked like a boot, and afterwards they’d run a boot, and a whole lot of other things that is formidable for us to defend.”
Whereas Garoppolo had destined game-winning drives in dual of his prior 3 starts, this was some-more of an surgical evisceration, nonetheless a integrate of Niners severe stretches done it distant some-more stressful than it had to be. Shanahan kept a Jags’ D off change with a solid diet of play-action fakes, designed quarterback transformation and receiver and parsimonious finish motion, frequently causing Jags defenders to overflow to a round in office of an apparent run, usually to leave a fullback or parsimonious finish far-reaching open on a backside. Eventually, a Jags became indeterminate — solely when they were incurring ridiculous personal fouls after a whistle.
“I don’t feel like it was him so many as a scheme,” Jacksonville nose tackle Marcell Dareus said. “They done extensive plays, all adult and down a field. It’s a flattering cold scheme. Their guys were ready. They knew their assignments and executed to a T.”
Said one Jags veteran: “They unprotected us. We weren’t prepared for it.”
That’s an comment that’s certain to pull a madness of Jags manager Doug Marrone, who has had a mostly successful initial deteriorate in Jacksonville. He’s certainly even reduction anxious about a miss of restraint displayed by defenders Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue, who any incurred unsportsmanlike control penalties late in a third quarter, and Malik Jackson, whose nonessential harshness infringement with 1:43 remaining helped dive a Niners’ game-clinching score.
“All they wanted to do was speak rabble a whole game,” Hyde said. “I’m like, ‘Those guys are easy to get out of their game.’ S—, they helped us out. They can keep on talking. They need to learn to keep their composure. They’re going to a playoffs; we’re not. It’ll be something good for them to learn.”
Garoppolo concurred, observant during his postgame press conference, “Especially towards a finish of a diversion when they started yelling during any other before they were yelling during us.”
The Jaguars were rattled from a start, descending behind 16-0 before Jalen Myrick blocked Robbie Gould’s additional point, and associate cornerback Aaron Colvin scooped it adult and scored to make it 16-2 4 mins into a second quarter. Somewhat improbably, Jacksonville rallied to take a 19-16 lead on a initial possession of a second half, usually to see a Niners take control with a contingent of unanswered touchdowns.
The second of those scores, that came on a expostulate buoyed by a personal fouls on Jack and Ngakoue, was a many impressive. On third-and-goal from a Jaguars’ 5, Garoppolo took a shotgun snap, surveyed his options and saw no one open. As a container collapsed, he slid to his left to buy time, and Colvin came charging toward him. At a final second, Garoppolo uniformly sidearmed a round that somehow found well-covered container receiver Trent Taylor in a front of a finish zone, giving a 49ers a 30-19 lead with 10:39 remaining a game.
“Trent was there,” Shanahan said, “but not that many people can chuck to their left with that arm angle. we mean, unequivocally few. It’s physique mechanics.”
Said Garoppolo: “The man (defensive finish Calais Campbell) was in front of me so we had to chuck it around him. Playing round paid off we theory today.”
Sixteen seconds later, Garoppolo was in a red section again, interjection to reflection Blake Bortles’ third interception, this one by cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. (Bortles’ initial pick, that was returned 50 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Dontae Johnson, had finished a strain of 98 uninterrupted throws but an interception.)
A span of runs by Matt Breida set adult Hyde’s six-yard touchdown; in between, a fans destitute out their “MVP” intone for Garoppolo, scarcely causing Shanahan to moment adult on a sidelines.
“I was indeed perplexing to get a throng to still down,” Staley said. “It was a critical moment; we indispensable to hear a cadence. But we can’t wait to hear those chants for genuine subsequent year.”
The Jags managed to put a genuine shock on a Niners, interjection to a span of late touchdowns sandwiched around an onside kick. Clinging to a 37-33 lead after recuperating a second onside kick, a Niners got a jumpstart when Jackson’s harshness chastisement (after Hyde’s drive-opening four-yard run) pushed a round to a Jacksonville 32.
The Jags still had one timeout as a Niners lined adult for a third-and-8 during a 30. Shanahan, as is his nature, motionless not to play it safe. After a snap, stability a day-long theme, he sent wideout Marquise Goodwin behind a quarterback for a feign retreat to a right. Garoppolo afterwards incited and tossed a semi-dangerous representation to Breida, who swept to a left sideline and raced by a slew of defenders for a clinching score.
“It was between a toss and a pass,” Shanahan pronounced later, smiling. “I went for a conservative call.”
As Shanahan and his players distinguished this happy Christmas Eve, their 5-10 record be damned, there was zero regressive about a Jimmy G. hysteria.
“It’s like carrying Tom Brady,” Staley said, jolt his head.
“I don’t know,” Staley admitted. “I never played with him. But it feels like it would be. And after where we’ve been, trust me, we’ll take it.”
After subsequent Sunday, a Niners will take an eight-month mangle from suggestive competition, secure that when it finally ends, a whole lot of fun is on a horizon.
Follow Michael Silver on Twitter @mikesilver.