Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 4/7/21
Despite what the San Francisco 49ers’ brass might want us to believe, a Jimmy Garoppolo trade could be coming between now and the 2021 NFL Draft in late April.
San Francisco made the surprising decision to move up to the No. 3 pick in the draft from 12th overall. In the process, general manager John Lynch and Co. gave up two future first-round picks and a third-round selection in 2022. The 49ers have also made it clear that they will select a quarterback with the third pick.
There’s multiple reasons why this makes sense. Garoppolo is a couple years removed from leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He also boasts a 22-8 record as San Francisco’s starter since being acquired midway through the 2017 season. However, there’s also a plethora of reasons why the 49ers will trade Garoppolo. We check in on them below.
The San Francisco 49ers had to have been disappointed with Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance in the Super Bowl, but at least the quarterback gained valuable experience that can help him going forward. However, with rumors swirling that the 49ers are interested in signing Tom Brady, you have to wonder if general manager John Lynch fears Garoppolo’s play on the big stage was as good as it gets.
Lynch has publicly supported Garoppolo this offseason and said the Niners are committed to the 28-year-old going forward, but Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston says he was told by multiple sources that Lynch is concerned about Garoppolo’s ceiling and decision-making. Interestingly enough, Lynch recently emphasized how much room he believes Jimmy G. has to grow.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off one of the best statistical seasons in franchise history. He helped lead San Francisco from a 4-12 record in 2018 to 13 wins, the NFC West title, the No. 1 overall seed and a shocking Super Bowl appearance.
Even then, rumors continue to persist that San Francisco could dump Garoppolo in favor of impending free-agent quarterback Tom Brady.
“As much as Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan likes Garoppolo, I’ve been told by multiple sources that he’s got some reservations about Garoppolo’s ceiling and overall decision making,” Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston reported Wednesday.
Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 3/4/20
The Kansas City Chiefs cemented their status as comeback kids by rallying from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV. The game was marked by Patrick Mahomes’ fourth quarter dramatics and a very impressive performance by the Chiefs’ defense.
Here are the five biggest reasons the Chiefs were able to take the title.
1. Comeback experience
It would be very easy for a team to tighten up and fall short down 10 points with less than 10 minutes to go in the Super Bowl. It was advantageous for the Chiefs, however, to have been in this situation in both their previous playoff games. Having fallen behind 24-0 to Houston, and 17-7 to Tennessee, the Chiefs didn’t panic and knew that their quick-strike offense could get them back in front on short notice. They may not have had to come from behind in the fourth quarter yet, but those games prepared them for Sunday.
At the end of the game, Mahomes made the throws that his 49ers counterpart Jimmy Garoppolo did not. The Chiefs quarterback struggled for much of the game, missing receivers and being pressured by San Francisco’s front four. That changed in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs went to a more up-tempo offense. He made several key throws, and his pass to Sammy Watkins to set up Kansas City’s go-ahead touchdown was clutch. He also made a few key runs to get first downs his team needed. This was far from Mahomes’ best performance, but he showed he has what it takes to step up when his team needed it most.
Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 2/2/20
Here are five reasons the 49ers (15-3) will beat the Chiefs (14-4) in Super Bowl LIV (FOX, 6:30 ET).
1. Sherman can shut down Hill’s deep game
In the regular season, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill averaged 31.4 receiving yards per game on passes 20-plus yards downfield, third among wide receivers. San Francisco’s defense is tailor-made to stop a player like him. The 49ers allowed a league-low 34 passing plays of 20-plus yards in the regular season. That is a testament to their Cover-3 defense and the elite level at which cornerback Richard Sherman executes his role in the scheme. Sherman allowed 0.44 yards per cover snap in the regular season, best among cornerbacks. His positioning on the left side of the defense is the perfect counter to Kansas City, which led the NFL in frequency of 20-plus yard passing plays to the deep right (one every 25 pass attempts).
2. Favorable matchups for Kittle, RBs The Chiefs are highly vulnerable to running backs and tight ends. Kansas City allowed the most receiving yards per game to running backs (59.4) and the fifth-most yards per game to tight ends (60.1) in the regular season. Linebacker Damien Wilson ranked 81st of 87 qualifiers at the position (1.47 yards allowed per cover snap). Coming into the Super Bowl, the Chiefs have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in three consecutive games. This bodes well for a 49ers offense that has the tight end ranked first at his position in yards per route run (George Kittle, 3.1) and the back ranked fourth (Kyle Juszczyk, 2.04).
3. They can shut down tight end Travis Kelce
San Francisco allowed 34.5 receiving yards per game to tight ends during the regular season, best in the NFL. Safeties and linebackers have chipped in excellent coverage to limit the opposition’s safety valves over the middle. Safety Jaquiski Tartt ranked 10th of 65 qualified safeties in yards allowed per cover snap (0.27) during the regular season. Linebackers Dre Greenlaw (0.89) and Fred Warner (1.04) ranked 14th and 22nd, respectively, among 50 qualified linebackers.
The Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl LIV matchup came to be because of several seminal decisions by each conference champion. Kansas City’s ascension came after years on the precipice, and the 49ers completed one of the more remarkable rebuilds in NFL history.
Going into this era-defining matchup, here are five bold moves that shaped each franchise:
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan hoists the George Halas Trophy after defeating the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (15-3)
1. Forming an unusual partnership
In 2017, San Francisco became the first team in nearly 40 years to have back-to-back one-and-done head coaches (Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly). Then the team hired Kyle Shanahan as head coach and shocked the football world by pairing him with stealth GM candidate John Lynch, a Fox TV analyst without personnel experience. Each received a six-year contract. The 49ers went 10-22 from 2017-18 but only started QB Jimmy Garoppolo in eight of those games. (He missed 13 games last season because of a knee injury.) After the lengthy grace period, Shanahan and Lynch have the franchise in its seventh Super Bowl. The 49ers are the first team since the merger to follow four straight double-digit-loss seasons with a Super Bowl berth.
2. Adding foundational piece
The leadup to the 49ers’ Garoppolo acquisition remains a mystery. A trade candidate for much of 2017, the Patriots’ contract-year quarterback may or may not have beenjettisoned against Bill Belichick’s will. Despite the Browns reportedly willing to offer an early-first-round pick for the passer, Belichick instead contacted Shanahan in October 2017 and agreed to take a second-rounder for Tom Brady’s seldom-seen backup. Shanahan was planning a 2018 Kirk Cousins pursuit, as the parties worked together in Washington. Garoppolo’s 5-0 record in 2017 as San Francisco’s starter convinced the 49ers to give him a then-NFL-high $27.5 million-per-year deal – albeit a front-loaded, team-friendly pact. Buoyed by a strong run game and resurgent defense, Garoppolo went 15-3 this season and posted a 102.0 passer rating, well above the league average.
Richard Sherman was absolutely roasted by Davante Adams during the NFC Championship Game, prompting former NFL star Darrelle Revis to take a swipe at him on Twitter. After the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers, Sherman hit back.
Here’s the play that caused Revis to take to social media and call out Sherman:
After watching this play, Revis sent the following message out on his Twitter account, ripping Sherman for being a zone cornerback, unlike himself:
For what it’s worth, Sherman would later make the game-sealing interception against Aaron Rodgers.
Well, after Sherman and the 49ers celebrated in the locker room, Sherman of course went onto social media and saw what Revis had posted.
No. 6 Tennessee (11-7) at No. 2 Kansas City (13-4), Sun., 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Most intriguing matchup: In a John Riggins– or John Wick-level zone going into the Titans’ first AFC championship game in 17 years, Derrick Henryencounters a Chiefs team yet to stop him. For all their improvements, the Chiefs’ defense is not on the level of the Titans’ playoff opponents, the Patriots or Ravens. After finishing last in run-defense DVOA in 2017 and ’18, the Chiefs ranked 29th this season. Henry has delivered ruthless consistency against the Chiefs, gaining 191 scrimmage yards on 25 touches in each of his past two opportunities –- in November 2019 and in the Titans’ 2017 wild-card-round upset win. Henry scored twice in a 2016 upset win in Kansas City and has five touchdowns against the Chiefs. Tennessee’s Taylor Lewan- and Rodger Saffold-led offensive line has helped Henry to four of the NFL’s top six rushing performances this season. The Titans’ only victory path is not a secret.
QB intelligence report: Becoming the ninth player to throw five touchdown passes in a playoff game, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomesnow has eight TD tosses, 894 yards and no interceptions in three postseason contests. Only Mahomes and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger have quarterbacked teams to AFC championship games in their first two seasons as starters. Mahomes piloted an NFL-playoff-record seven straight touchdown drives Sunday, with the Texans becoming the first team since 1940 to lose a playoff game in which it held a 17-plus-point first-quarter lead. Kansas City’s comeback-turned-blowout showed the margin for error Mahomes creates. This is the optimal modern quarterback. Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill, whose yards per passing attempt (9.6) total was the fourth most since 1960, faces the NFL’s eighth-ranked pass defense. It slammed the door on a Houston rally. Tannehill, however, did orchestrate a four-play, 61-yard, game-winning drive to beat the Chiefs in November and just navigated two superior defenses to reach this round.
New blueprints coming soon: These franchises’ respective roster constructions raise the stakes. The Chiefs are 2-for-2 in AFC championship game appearances behind Mahomes, but he’s now extension-eligible and will command a market-reshaping contract this offseason. The Chiefs also will have Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Joneson either a franchise tag or near-Aaron Donald-level extension next season. The forthcoming calculus change will require new Chiefs road maps to championship-caliber rosters. The Titans are ready to pay up to see if Tannehill’s late bloom is legitimate. They also have one of the more unusual extensions to negotiate with Henry -– an old-school back whose skill set differs from the position’s top wage earners –- and also have right tackle Jack Conklinas an impending free agent. These costs amplify the importance of maximizing opportunity when the math is easier.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) and tight end Travis Kelce Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
And the winner is… Kansas City
The Chiefs are 0-3 against the Titans during Henry’s career, and this is the most consistent version of the bludgeoning back. Kansas City is 2-7 in home playoff games since 1995, andAndy Reidteams are not known for big-stage reliability. But the Mahomes advantage will be too much. The Chiefs’ Legion of Zoom receiving corps, coupled with potential Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce, represents a significantly more difficult matchup for the Titans’ No. 20-ranked DVOA pass defense than the Patriots or Ravens did. More victory avenues exist for the favorite, Henry’s brutal brilliance notwithstanding. The Chiefs will survive another Henry onslaught and book their first Super Bowl berth in 50 years.
In Week 12, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fumbles as he is sacked by 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner (54). Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
No. 2 Green Bay (14-3) at No. 1 San Francisco (14-3), Sun., 6:40 p.m. ET (FOX)
Most intriguing matchup: San Francisco’s defensive line hounded Aaron Rodgersin Week 12, sacking him five times and holding him to a career-worst 3.15 yards per attempt. Rookie Nick Bosa(1 sack) and the once-underwhelming Arik Armstead(2 sacks) ignited the 49ers’ 37-8 rout. Dee Ford(7.5 sacks in an injury-prone season) did not play that night; he will Sunday. Green Bay’s offensive line rated 10th in pass protection, per Football Outsiders, and has veteran tackles in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. The latter missed most of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers, and Armstead and Bosa dominated backup Alex Light. Even with Bulaga, who will presumably be back from an illness that sidelined him against the Seahawks, the Packers are up against a special defense -– one that will have high-priced linebacker Kwon Alexander back as well.
Probably like you, I was wowed by the performance Saturday of Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, who steamrolled the Patriots for 182 yards rushing. How could a guy that big be that fast? He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds — wink, wink — but he can’t be a pound below 275! Remember this photo of Henry and fellow RB Mark Ingram, now with the Ravens, on the sidelines at an Alabama game. He made Ingram, who’s 5-foot-9 and 220 or so pounds, look like a Lilliputian. And so that got me to thinking: Who are the freakish talents (non-quarterbacks only, please) in the divisional round of the playoffs, athletes whose physical presence/skills are beyond the norm? Here are 10 who come to mind:
Freaky talent: Size (6’ 8”, 345 lbs.) and arm length (35”)
Why he scares defensive coordinators: It is an expensive cab ride to get to the quarterback when going around the outside of Brown, who doesn’t carry a lot of extra weight but has a massive frame. With his long arms and wingspan, maneuvering around him might actually take one extra step for most D-linemen. Brown can also engulf his opponent in the run game. Coming out of college, his stock fell after a miserable Combine testing performance. But he still has rare gifts and has quickly become a big factor in Baltimore’s offensive success, helping to keep QB Lamar Jackson out of harm’s way.
Freaky talent: height (6’ 7”) and hand size (11.75”)
Why he scares offensive coordinators: Buckner is long limbed (34 3/8” arms), but unlike many athletes with such rare dimensions, he is fluid, plays with leverage and is quick to change directions. He routinely gets his massive hands on the blocker and stuns him, giving Buckner a huge advantage in controlling the offensive linemen and disengaging to get free and track the ball-carrier (7.5 sacks and 14 QB hits this season). Buckner runs with long strides and eats up turf in pursuit of the quarterback.
Why he scares offensive coordinators: This guy looks like The Predator and can play like it too when he turns it on. He has been far and away Seattle’s best pass-rusher since the Seahawks traded for him at the start of the season (three sacks; 13 QB hits), so it’s safe to say that without him, this defense would be in all kinds of trouble. Clowney displays extreme straight-line power and can change directions quickly, but he shines when using his explosion to go right through his blocker. He has heavy hands and shows great power at the point of attack and when arriving at his target, which was on display with his controversial hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of their wild-card game.
Why he scares defensive coordinators: Just ask the Patriots how terrifying Henry was, especially late in the game and after first contact. Per Pro Football Focus, he led the league with 972 yards rushing after contact. There isn’t another running back in the league like Henry, who looks more like an edge defender than an NFL ball carrier. Comparing current players to all-time greats is risky business, but in a way, Henry is reminiscent of the legendary Jim Brown in that he is both bigger and faster than most of the tacklers trying to get him on the ground. While Henry’s 4.54 dash time doesn’t seem that impressive, it is also misleading. When he gets up to full speed, he is a locomotive that is nearly unstoppable. Tacklers bounce off this guy. Henry, who led the league with 1,540 yards rushing, can take over a game.
What a crazy end to the NFL regular season on Sunday. It started with the New England Patriots shockingly losing to the Miami Dolphins to give away a first-round bye.
The Philadelphia Eagles earned the NFC East title with a win over the New York Giants later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers put up one heck of a performance in a dramatic win over the Seahawks in Seattle to earn the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 17 NFL action.
49ers win game of the decade
We knew Sunday night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks was among the biggest of the season. San Francisco would earn the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. Seattle would claim the NFC West and host Minnesota during the wild-card round.
The game itself was absolutely amazing with Russell Wilson leading Seattle to multiple second-half scoring drives. But in the end, a goal-line stand from the 49ers’ defense ultimately gave Kyle Shanahan and Co. the win.
This has to be considered the game of the decade in what was the final regular-season matchup of the 2010s. And it’s going to have wide-ranging ramifications in the playoffs. Just craziness.
Titans take care of business, will face the Patriots
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
It was a simple scenario for Tennessee on Sunday. If the Titans were able to come out on top against a Houston Texans squad that was resting its starters, they would earn the No. 6 seed. Earlier in the day, New England’s loss to Miami guaranteed that any potential wild-card game for the Titans would be against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Riding the brilliant performances of Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry, Tennessee came out on top by the score of 35-14. It finished the regular season having won seven of Tannehill’s 10 starts and has to be seen as an upset waiting to happen against the defending champs next weekend.
That’s it for Oakland Raiders football
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Gruden and the Raiders needed a whole lot to happen in order to sneak into the playoffs. That included them coming out on top over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It also included a ton of other scenarios, including the Titans losing and Colts winning.
When it became apparent that neither scenario would play out, the end of Oakland Raiders football as we know it was in the cards. The Raiders lost to Denver by the score of 16-15 to finish their final season in Northern California at 7-9. It’s now on to Las Vegas for Gruden and the Raiders.
Jason Garrett’s tenure seemingly comes to an end
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Cowboys needed to take out Washington with the Giants winning against Philadelphia in Jersey Sunday afternoon to earn the NFC East title. Dallas did its job with an 47-16 blowout of the Skins. Unfortunately, Dallas saw Philadelphia take out the Giants at about the same time.
The end result is an 8-8 record and Dallas shockingly missing out on the playoffs. This should pretty much spell the end of Garrett’s tenure in Dallas. His contract has now officially expired with the Cowboys already being linked to multiple big-name candidates to replace Garrett.
Chiefs are hitting their stride
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Winners of five consecutive heading into Sunday’s season finale against the last-place Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs started out slowly at Arrowhead. That’s until Patrick Mahomes went full Patrick Mahomes and Damien Williams brought the house down with this touchdown run.
When all was said and done, Kansas City came out on top by the score of 31-21 for its sixth consecutive win heading into the playoffs. This win, coupled with New England’s shocking loss to the Dolphins, has the Chiefs as the No. 2 seed in the AFC and enjoying a first-round bye. Watch out Ravens, another team is aiming for you.
No fight in these Panthers
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The decision to fire head coach Ron Rivera after 12 games and nearly a decade in that role has backfired on the Panthers in a big way. They headed into Sunday’s meaningless game against the Saints losers of seven consecutive games. Most of those losses displayed a declawed Panthers squad that showed no fight.
That was once again the case at home against New Orleans. Carolina fell by the score of 42-10, embarrassing itself in the process. Regardless of what the future might hold at quarterback and head coach in Carolina, the ending of this season was an unmitigated disaster for the Panthers. Sunday’s blowout loss added another layer to this.
Patriots stumble into the playoffs
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Shocking. That has to be the best way to describe New England’s home loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. A win at Gillette Stadium would have given New England a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive season.
Instead, Tom Brady and Co. put up a dud of a performance in a 27-24 loss to the Dolphins (5-11). By virtue of this defeat and the Chiefs’ win in Kansas City, New England will be playing wild-card weekend for the first time since all the way back in 2010. It has to be a sickening feeling for Bill Belichick and his team. Just brutal.
Packers survive Lions
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
There’s no world in which Green Bay’s 23-20 win over the last-place Detroit Lions on Sunday can be seen as a good thing. By virtue of the victory, Aaron Rodgers and Co. earned a first-round bye.
Even then, a game-ending field goal from Mason Crosby to clinch Green Bay’s 13th win of the season was not great. Sure the Pack will host a divisional round game against one of four teams playing on wild-card weekend. In no way should the team feel good heading into the playoffs. If you can’t dominate an injury-plagued last-place team, there’s little hope for postseason success. That’s the harsh reality of the situation.
That’s it for Freddie Kitchens
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Reports indicated earlier on Sunday that the Browns were vetting potential replacements for first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens. Cleveland entered Week 17 with a 6-9 record and taking on a one-win Bengals team.
What we saw transpire in Cincinnati put an end to Kitchens’ short tenure with the Browns. Cleveland fell in embarrassing fashion by the score of 33-23. It was yet another mistake-prone performance from the squad, and it led to Kitchens getting his walking papers on the eve of Black Monday. Back to the drawing board for the long-downtrodden Browns.
Eagles overcome injuries, win NFC East
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday’s game against the Giants with an opportunity to win the NFC East. It did not start out swimmingly with star offensive players Brandon Brooks and Miles Sanders joining a plethora of other Eagles players on the sideline due to injury.
Despite that, Doug Pederson and Co. were able to will their way to a hard-fought win and the division title with a 34-17 victory. It really is a testament to the job Pederson has done this season. And regardless if the season ends at home next weekend against the Seahawks, it will be seen as a success in Philly.
NFL Playoff field set
The 49ers, Packers, Ravens and Chiefs will be watching next weekend to see who they take on in the divisional round. Meanwhile, eight teams will take the field for what promises to be a fun weekend of postseason action.
In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans will travel to New England to take on the defending champion Patriots. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills will be taking on the Texans in Houston.
The NFC is even crazier with the Minnesota Vikings heading to New Orleans to take on the Saints and the Seahawks traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles. Get your popcorn ready, this should be a blast.
By: Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 12/30/19
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