As has been well-documented, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only was asked to throw the ball eight times in the 49ers’ NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers. But Garoppolo’s lack of attempts wasn’t due to lack of confidence from head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers were picking up yards in chunks on the ground against the Packers. No matter what play they ran, Raheem Mostert sliced through the Packers’ defense en route to a record-breaking game to send the 49ers to Miami.
With Mostert and the ground game humming, Garoppolo was able to put it in cruise control and coast to South Beach.
In order to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Garoppolo will, in theory, have to throw a touch more than eight times. Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who will call the game Sunday on FOX, has all the belief in the world that Garoppolo can make the plays when called upon at Hard Rock Stadium.
«I understand what happens when you only throw the ball eight times,» Aikman said Tuesday. «I really believe if he’s needed that he’s certainly capable of playing at a really high level. I really think he’s going to have a much bigger impact on this game than what he had the first two [playoff games].»
Garoppolo had a good season, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid certainly isn’t buying the idea that Garoppolo isn’t something to worry about. Frank Clark on the other end didn’t sound super impressed with what he’s seen from Garoppolo, but the 27-year-old QB has made plays when it mattered this season.
He threw for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the NFL’s second-highest scoring offense. He led game-winning drives in New Orleans against the Saints and at home against the Arizona Cardinals. When called upon, Garoppolo has been nails.
For Aikman, his belief in Garoppolo is rooted not in what the quarterback has done this season, but in the faith that Bill Belichick had in him to eventually take the reigns from Tom Brady. When Aikman asked Belichick about Garoppolo while the young quarterback still was a New England Patriot, the legendary head coach had unwavering faith that the current face of the 49ers could do everything needed of him.
«If something were to happen to Tom Brady, he said he felt they could win with Jimmy Garoppolo,» Aikman said. «And when Bill Belichick says win, that doesn’t mean win Week 3. That means, win it all. I thought it spoke volumes for the respect that he had for him.»
When Belichick speaks, you listen.
Garoppolo watched Brady and Belichick win two Super Bowls during his time in New England. Soaking in the lessons from a dynastic operation that has spanned two decades.
Now, the bright lights will shine down on him Sunday as he tries to win the 49ers franchise its sixth Super Bowl title. Something Aikman, and Belichick, believe he can do.
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of «49ers Central» all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).
Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of «49ers Pregame Live» with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on «49ers Postgame Live,» starting immediately after the game.
Bill Belichick’s faith in Jimmy Garoppolo all Troy Aikman needed to hear originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area