Over the past number of seasons, I developed a serious dislike for the San Francisco 49ers and in particular their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. It wasn’t his rugged handsomeness or millions of dollars, but more to do with the hype that had been built up around the Kyle Shanahan offence as it bulldozed its way to Super Bowl LIV. As the man conducting the offensive orchestra, Jimmy G ultimately came in for a lot of praise, some deserved, some not.
Fast forward to the 2021 season and after a shaky start, some injuries, and an upstart rookie in the form of Trey Lance, Garoppolo and the 49ers offense began to find their feet. With a 6-6 record after week 13, their playoff chances were literally 50/50. A 4-1 finish saw them clinch a wildcard spot and we won’t discuss the path they took through the playoffs after Dallas.
Lets fast forward again. This time to the start of the 2022 season and make some assumptions:
- Aaron Rodgers has been traded
- The Packers have used the draft haul wisely
- Adams has stayed
- Campbell, Douglas, and Preston were all resigned
- The defense continues where it left off against the 49ers
- Free Agency was well utilized
- Jordan Love is the starter
So, what can Love bring to this new look offense? Its still a little unknown as his regular season appearances to date are not a big enough sample size to draw a conclusion. Its no secret that Matt LaFleur likes to run the ball to open up the play action game. Combined with RPO’s and pre-snap motion to scheme his receivers open, Love should have a check down option on most plays to keep the chains moving. Sound familiar?
The thunder and lightning combination of Jones and Dillon in the run game should ensure success on the ground, opening up the possibility of play action and long shots downfield. Let’s assume that Brian Gutekunst strikes gold on a deep threat receiver to compliment Adams and straight away, you’re keeping an opposition defense honest.
Love’s college film shows the ability to use his legs when needed, but also his arm to make those big plays downfield. Take an O-line of Bakhtiari, Runyan, Myers, Newman, Jenkins and you offer Love some of the best protection in the game to take those shots when the opportunity presents itself. The deep shot, coupled with a safe check down to an open receiver or tight end, gives Matt LaFleur the recipe for success. It all sounds too good to be true. Maybe because we’ve seen this before.
Back to my friend Jimmy G. His head coach comes from the same coaching tree as LaFleur. The 49ers like to run the ball and have designed some of the best run plays we’ve seen in the NFL this season. Once a defense has stacked the box and Garoppolo gets a look he likes, its boom, play action and a big play downfield. However, it isn’t always that simple. We all know Jimmy G is prone to an interception at the worst possible moments. We all know he can overthrow to a wide open receiver. We all know he prefers an easy option over the middle before a throw outside the numbers. We all know this, opposition coaches know this, but yet, he brought his team to the NFC Championship Game – their second in three seasons.
Back to Jordan Love. Can Matt LaFleur build an offense to complement Love’s strengths. I most certainly believe he can. Can Love become our Jimmy G? Can he be the guy who can get us so far, but maybe not all the way. I’m willing to find out. If he can, then what would have changed in Green Bay? We win the North, we make a run, but ultimately fall short. Its the same result as every playoff appearance since 2010.
And so to my original point: Does Jimmy Garoppolo offer hope for the future of the Green Bay Packers? Have we got our own in-house version? We will soon find out. Maybe sooner than we want to. Picture a young team sprinkled with some experience built around Matt LaFleur’s offensive scheme, future draft picks to keep the machine churning and a playoff berth more often than not is achievable. What if maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t possess Jimmy’s fatal flaws? Is it then possible that all the stars align in a given season and he takes you to the promised land and brings the title back to Titletown?