Jimmy Garoppolo’s curse isn’t so much a tender shoulder or a tramp thumb. That’s it: he’s not Joe or Steve, guys with ordinary men’s names but blessed with Hall of Fame skills.
You know, like in Montana and Young.
He’s just Jimmy, and for his teammates, that’s a lot. He’s their guy, their quarterback, their leader. Garoppolo who was solid if not superb, effective if not elite. If football is all about wins and losses, then Garoppolo has done his part, if not with bells, whistles and showy touchdown-to-interception ratios. His regular season record is 31-14. His playoff record is 4-1, with the loss coming in the Super Bowl to Kansas City following the 2019 season.
“What Jimmy Garoppolo has is the locker room, the support of his teammates and his coaches, and that’s everything in this sport,” said John McVay, the 49ers front office manager for each of the five. franchise Super Bowl winners, now retired at 91. in Placer County. “Jimmy is a great teammate. His teammates and coaches say so, and that’s the biggest compliment you can get in sports. He’s done a lot already.”
And more: The 49ers are the first team in league history to win three road games against opponents with 12 or more wins. A Sunday win over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game will extend the mark, and that still might not be good enough for a good number of 49ers fans who aren’t expecting the moon. They want Jupiter and those rings.
Garoppolo is not the man of this people. Football and supporters go hand in hand. People wear shirts of their beloved players to games because they feel that connection. But you don’t see Garoppolo shirts in games. You always see Montna and Young in costume, sometimes even a Jeff Garcia. No 49ers player in recent years has been as wild as Garoppolo on social media. He is furious and disapproving as if he threw puppies, nuns and children into a raging river.
He threw interceptions and relied on special teams, defense and a running game to get to this point in the season. He also relied on those elements the last time he appeared in an NFC title game two years ago, when Garoppolo attempted just eight passes in a 37-20 win over Green. Bay.
Fans invest time and money in their teams. We understand that. Garoppolo is the target of fans who hate pure sport despite himself. I call it wasted energy. It could be worse, sure. It can always be worse. There have been no death threats against Garoppolo, at least not reported, and we don’t mention that in passing or in jest. Unbalanced fans don’t hold back. Colin Kaepernick received death threats while quarterbacking for the 49ers, not for not winning a Super Bowl after the 2011 season, but for kneeling during the national anthem.
Even Montana got death threats
Shoot, even Montana got death threats. It came the week of his first hour of glory with the franchise. It was 40 years ago this month when Montana hit a soaring Dwight Clark for “The Catch” in the NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys in the dying moments of a game for the NFC title at Candlestick Park.
A few moments later, when the match was final, there was Montana who spun across the field, the ball under his arm, his index finger signaling the number 1, and he was engulfed in the tunnel which led to the locker room. Fans flocked to the field and Montana was rushed like he had a plane to catch. What he needed to catch was his breath. He was lying on the locker room floor, exhausted, and it was no wonder.
Before the biggest game of his life, Montana was told by club security that a death threat had been telephoned. Said Montana years later to Gary Myers, who wrote the book “The Catch” which detailed every part of this game and its meaning, “They told me on the sidelines that there was a death threat. Nobody wanted to support me. People dispersed quickly. Someone was going to try to shoot me during the game.
Montana added on his reasoning for leaving the field: “I screwed up from there. I wasn’t taking any risks.
Garoppolo can shine on Sunday, or not
The only other time the 49ers and Rams faced each other in the playoffs came at the end of the 1989 season, in the NFC Championship. The 49ers went 30-3, on course to repeat themselves as Super Bowl champions as Montana cemented their greatness. Against the Rams, Montana was sharp, almost flawless.
Man of color John Madden on that CBS TV show said, “If they put a statue outside of Joe Montana’s chandelier, I think everyone would walk past it and nod their heads right now.”
Garoppolo won’t get a statue anytime soon, but Sunday could be his crowning glory, a second NFC championship in three seasons, another ticket to the Super Bowl. It doesn’t have to be Joe or Steve. He doesn’t have to increase the load. Don’t make mistakes. Don’t mess up.
If the 49ers don’t beat the Rams for the seventh straight time, you can bet Garoppolo will take the heat, just because. There’s the actual game, then the blame game, and the latter has become a tired act. Fans quickly forget how lean it was for the 49ers not too long ago, including going 2-14 in 2016, 4-12 in 2018 and 6-10 in 2020. “Fans” should boo these seasons and these memories.