Beating a three-win team by one point to get just your second win of the season isn’t usually cause for a lot of celebration, but it sounds like many San Francisco 49ers players were elated after their 15-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
And it wasn’t because of the win, but their quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo made his first start for the Niners, a little more than a month after San Francisco acquired him in a trade with the New England Patriots. Rookie C.J. Beathard, who has been starting, was injured, but the Niners in theory also need to see what they have in Garoppolo, as these are the final games of his rookie contract.
The 26-year-old, a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2014, had his teammates raving after his 26-for-37, 293 yard, one interception performance, despite the fact San Francisco didn’t score a touchdown.
“To me, it’s like he really learned from Tom Brady,” running back Carlos Hyde said. “That’s what he reminded me of: just a young Tom Brady out there. How Brady is late in the game, where you give him like 30 seconds to go, yo, he can still win the game for his team.”
San Francisco’s final possession was pretty impressive. The offense took over at its own 8 with 5:27 to play and down two points, and Garoppolo methodically moved the unit into position to score, taking nearly every second off the clock in the process.
Garoppolo was 5-of-6 for 54 yards on the drive, completing 3-of-4 third-down chances, including a 33-yard pass to Trent Taylor on third-and-9; the fourth third-down try was a kneeldown to kill clock when the Niners were in a goal-to-go situation.
Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould hit the 24-yard game-winner, sweet redemption after the leading scorer in Chicago history was cut on the eve of the 2016 season.
“We’ve got a quarterback, huh?,” veteran left tackle Joe Staley said of Garoppolo.
“Just look at him,” said receiver Marquise Goodwin, who had a career-high eight receptions. “He’s got it all together. He came in a short time (ago) and is helping us flip this thing around. Some people are just winners, and he’s a winner.”
Garoppolo got his third career win (in three career starts) just miles from where he grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois, with his parents and friends in the stands. According to the CBS broadcast, Sunday was also Garoppolo’s dad’s birthday.
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