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Film room: What Jimmy Garoppolo can bring to the Raiders

Besides handsomeness

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Las Vegas Raiders v San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

One of the popular names tossed around to replace Derek Carr for the Las Vegas Raiders is Jimmy Garoppolo. While his best years were with the San Francisco 49ers, the linkage between Raiders’ head coach Josh McDaniels and Garoppolo is strong as they worked together with the New England Patriots.

Barring negotiations going south between the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson, Garoppolo will have the best track record of any quarterback available in free agency this offseason. However, many Raider fans still scoff at the idea of bringing in Handsome Jim.

That apprehension is justified, though. For one, the 49ers tried to move on from him in the offseason but couldn’t find a trade partner, partially because he has a long injury history and was coming off shoulder surgery. And that brings up another point, Garoppolo finished another season on injured reserve this past year.

Despite all of that, Garoppolo’s biggest value proposition for the Silver and Black — on paper at least — is tied to Carr’s fatal flaw, he wins.

Jimmy G has a career record of 40-17 as a starter and has played in two Conference Championship games and a Super Bowl. He also was an integral piece of San Francisco’s most recent NFC Championship appearance, going 7-3 before a foot injury in Week 13 ended his season.

All of this is great, but what can he actually bring to Las Vegas if he does become the team’s next QB? For that, we turn to the film.

San Francisco runs play action here to bring the Rams’ linebackers — most importantly, Bobby Wagner (No. 45) — closer to the line of scrimmage. With Deebo Samuel (No. 19) running the drag route, Garoppolo wants to hit Samuel in the second throwing window against the fire zone call from Los Angeles.

Jimmy G shows good anticipation by starting his throwing motion before Samuel clears Wagner. That maximizes the space he has to fit the ball in between the two linebackers, and his pass has some nice zip on it to make sure the backers can’t make a play on the ball while also hitting the receiver in stride.

One common theme we’ll see here is Garoppolo is pretty good at attacking the area between the second and third levels of defenses. Per Pro Football Focus, he led the league with a 123.7 passer rating when throwing to the intermediate areas of the field.

This next clip is similar to the last one but without the benefit of play-action holding the linebackers close to the line of scrimmage.

The Rams are playing Cover 6 and Garoppolo looks to attack the Cover 2 side, likely because he knows he’ll have a mismatch with a backer on George Kittle (No. 85). When Garoppolo starts his throwing motion, Kittle hasn’t even made his break yet and Ernest Jones (No. 53) isn’t giving much room for the pass to be completed.

However, a well-placed ball with some velocity beats the coverage and it’s a first down and a chunk gain for the 49ers. Jimmy G may not have the arm strength to necessarily push the ball down the field, but he does have decent arm strength to put speed on the ball and take advantage of throwing windows versus zone coverage.

Back to play-action for our next play but don’t let that take anything away from how impressive of a throw this is. The play design does get the linebackers to come downhill, but Jordan Fuller (No. 4) stays deep and turns his back to the quarterback to pick up Kittle in coverage.

Fuller is plastered all over Kittle when Garoppolo throws this pass, however, with the defensive back’s back turned, it’s going to be difficult for him to make a play on the ball. Garoppolo recognizes this, puts some touch on his pass to keep it out of Jones’ reach, and throws Kittle open by putting the ball in front of him.

I believe the touchdown got overturned because Kittle’s right foot lands out of bounds, but this is still an excellent job by the quarterback to give his guy a chance in the back of the end zone.

Here’s another great example of Garoppolo throwing with anticipation, this time against man coverage.

Asante Samuel (No. 26) has inside leverage against Brandon Aiyuk (No. 11) which could cause some quarterbacks to look away from Aiyuk running the deep dig route. However, Jimmy G goes through his progressions and notices that Samuel has bailed instead of squatting and has his hips pointed toward the sideline.

Once the receiver gets to the top of the route, the quarterback lets it rip and puts the ball in front of the wideout to lead him. Granted, the pass is a little high but it’s still catchable and serves as another example of good anticipation from Garoppolo for what would have been a 20-yard gain had Aiyuk held onto the ball.

This next clip is similar to the last one where Garoppolo does a good job of working through his reads and finding the open man.

The 49ers run a variation of a flood or levels concept with the outside receiver running the short whip route, the No. 2 receiver (Aiyuk) inside releasing to run a corner or the deep route, and No. 3 (Samuel) outside releasing before running the out route at the sticks.

However, the Chargers are in man coverage and have the frontside plastered. You could argue that Aiyuk is open on the corner but that’s a risky throw with the safety over the top and looking to drive on the route.

Instead of forcing the ball into coverage, Garoppolo finds Kittle on the backside dig route for an easy pitch and catch to pick up a first down on third and long.

We’ll end with an off-script play. Similar to the last clip, Los Angeles has the frontside routes covered and there’s nowhere for the quarterback to throw on that side of the field. What makes this one different than the last is the pressure starts to hit home and force Garoppolo out of the pocket.

So, he rolls out to his right and finds Ray-Ray McCloud (No. 3) on a linebacker. McCloud perfectly executes his scramble drill rules by working deep and without having his feet set, Jimmy G drops a perfectly placed ball down the field for a 30-yard gain on what looked like a dead play initially.

The lack of off-script plays was something Raider fans grew frustrated with during the end of Carr’s tenure, so a play like this from Garoppolo is encouraging.