With starting quarterback C.J. Beathard hobbled due to a recent lower leg injury, Jimmy Garoppolo is primed to get a majority, if not all, of the snaps while anticipating making his first start for the San Francisco 49ers in his hometown of Chicago against the Chicago Bears. Will his performance blow fans away in the windy city?
Recapping how we got here:
Beathard’s left leg was injured late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. Garoppolo filed in for the last three plays of the contest and threw the 49ers’ only touchdown of the game to WR Louis Murphy. Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated that he didn’t consider pulling Beathard before his injury, which was initially diagnosed as a bruised lower left leg. Beathard had an MRI on Monday and coach Shanahan said he would make his decision on which quarterback starts on Wednesday (per Matt Maiocco of NBCS). However, Matt Maiocco Later confirmed that Jimmy G has the edge to start on Sunday against the Bears base on Beathard’s health.
He’ll now face some challenges and adversity:
Garoppolo has had about a month to digest Shanahan’s complex offense. In his short cameo of three plays he did a good job of improvising, no doubt, but now he’ll have to do it for 60 minutes without promising back up RT Erik Magnuson who was placed on injured reserve recently. Magnuson filled in for starter Trent Brown who’s been dealing with a shoulder injury and who’s still questionable to play come Sunday. If Brown can’t go, the 49ers will likely turn to undrafted rookie Darrell Williams Jr., who would be their fourth starting right tackle in the past five games (per Eric Branch of the SFGATE).
Facts to know: Beathard has taken 17 sacks and absorbed 52 hits in his first five NFL starts. How will Jimmy G handle the pressure? Hold that thought….
What will the Bears try to do against Jimmy G?
The Bears’ defense has held its own this year; ranking 13th in total defense, 12th against the pass and 17th against the run (via ESPN.com). However, they’ll be without a key contributor on defense. One of their top pass-rushers, Leonard Floyd, won’t play and is out for the year due to a knee injury. Vic Fangio, who deploys a 3-4 defense and who we will properly introduce shortly, is known for keeping everything in front of him on defense meaning he doesn’t like to give up the big play and he usually takes away one key area of your offensive attack.
He will try to feature pressure and clog running lanes up the middle with DT Eddie Goldman and middle LB Danny Trevathan (who’s questionable for the game) to highlight a few at a glance. Fangio knows that the 49ers have been suspect or should we say somewhat soft up the middle and he’s familiar with running back Carlos Hyde. Look for Fangio to attempt to stop Hyde first and foremost since he’s the engine that makes this offense run, and as aforementioned, the Bears are middle of the pack at stopping the run.
Things you should know: Look for Fangio to test Garoppolo’s physical resolve, grit, and toughness by telling his defense if you can’t get to him via a sack, then get a hat on him and try to physically punish him early and often in an attempt to shake him. But Jimmy G is poised; he should be ready for that.
Fangio will try and take Jimmy Garoppolo’s running game away which, when a quarterback doesn’t know the full playbook or the players on offense that well, his running game and use of TE’s — paging George Kittle and Garret Celek — usually become his security blanket. Fangio will hope he can generate some pressure and make Jimmy G throw into his 12th rank pass defense that features defensive backs Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, and safety Adrian Amos (who’s questionable for the game).
How can Jimmy Garoppolo counter?
If Garoppolo starts, no, correction, when Jimmy G starts, Shanahan will create a game plan that will play to Garoppolo’s strengths, which are accuracy, good ball placement, mobility and a quick release to offset whatever rush comes his way. Expect coach Shanahan to lean on Hyde and Matt Breida more in this game and set up play action to Marquise Goodwin. With a quick release, you also could feature a short passing game, as well, especially since Fangio usually will try to make you work for it and earn your money methodically down the field.
What’s the Bears offensive game plan?
I expect the Bears to run the ball and establish their feature running back Jordan Howard who stands at 6′ 0″, 224 lbs. Howard has 847 yards rushing on 199 attempts at 4.3 yards per rush to go with 5 rushing touchdowns. They will try and move the pocket for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and give him high percentage throws to his underwhelming weapons consisting of TE Dion Sims and Wr’s Kendall Wright and Deonte Thompson.
What’s the 49ers defensive game plan?
Expect 49ers’ defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to concentrate on stopping the run and mixing up coverages while attempting to apply pressure to confuse Trubisky.
Storylines: The ties that connect the 49ers and Bears
The current defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears is non-other than Vic Fangio, who was the former defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers during the Jim Harbaugh championship run. Fangio served as the DC for the 49ers from 2011-2014. In the offseason of 2015, he was passed over by the front office/organization in favor of former 49ers’ head coach Jim Tomsula. Does Fangio get his revenge and spoil Jimmy Garoppolo’s homecoming in the windy city?
What to Expect from Jimmy G against the Bears:
Expect Jimmy G to be wearing a wristband with a scaled-down version of the offense. Shanahan will not want to overwhelm him with the entire playbook. Look for his quick release/decisive throws and his ability to place the ball where only his receiver can get it. He will also have a few scrambles ala maybe pistol/zone read…. based on the inconsistent play of the offensive line. He will test the Bear’s defense deep with speedster Marquise Goodwin, if they can establish the run and then set up play action.
With Jimmy G being known for poise under pressure, I don’t expect him to be rattled or shy away from the moment, not one bit. In fact, the 49ers should be victorious with a final score 17 to 13, making this game the 49ers second win of the year.
It’s official Jimmy G is starting against the Bears (via the team’s website).
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims and Contributor Jimi Payne Staff Writer at Niners live.