let Garoppolo take over vs. Bears
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[November 30, 2017]
By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange
CHICAGO -- San Francisco 49ers
quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo felt pressure in the pocket this week as
he prepared to make his first start with his new team.
Make that pressure in the pants pocket.
"I had to put my phone away for a little while the last couple
days," Garoppolo said with a grin. "I'm trying to focus."
The 26-year-old will make his first start for the 49ers and the
third of his career when he and his teammates visit the Chicago
Bears on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. It is familiar territory
for Garoppolo, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington
Heights, Ill., and played at Rolling Meadows High School before
earning a scholarship to play at Eastern Illinois.
Major college programs likely feel foolish by now for overlooking
the pinpoint passer with a lightning-quick release.
The promotion of Garoppolo generated a surge of excitement during an
otherwise dreary season for San Francisco (1-10). The 49ers acquired
him from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018
second-round pick on Halloween, and Garoppolo spent the past month
on the sideline learning the offense under first-year coach Kyle
An injury to fellow signal-caller C.J. Beathard last week opened the
door for Shanahan to make the change at starter. Garoppolo came off
the bench after Beathard got hurt, and he completed both of his pass
attempts for 18 yards and a touchdown.
Including his time in New England behind future Hall of Famer Tom
Brady, Garoppolo has thrown 96 NFL passes without an interception.
The NFL record belongs to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott,
who threw his first 176 passes before he finally was intercepted
during his rookie season in 2016.
Chicago (3-8) also has pinned its future hopes on a young
quarterback with a big arm and little experience. Mitchell Trubisky
will make his eighth start as he looks to rebound from a
career-worst 38.3 passer rating in a 31-3 loss to the Philadelphia
Trubisky, 23, has passed for 1,135 yards, four touchdowns and four
interceptions since the Bears selected him No. 2 overall in the 2017
draft. San Francisco initially owned the No. 2 pick but accepted a
generous package of additional draft picks from Chicago in exchange
for moving one spot down to No. 3.
Is Trubisky peeved that the 49ers traded out of the No. 2 spot
rather than draft him as the future franchise leader?
"I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," Trubisky said. "I'm happy to
be here in Chicago. This is where I was supposed to be."
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Yet the North Carolina product is not happy with his recent
performance. He blamed poor footwork for his ugly performance
against Philadelphia and vowed to improve against the 49ers. He said
the Bears' current four-game losing streak was the longest that he
can remember enduring on any of his teams at any level of football.
Chicago needs a victory to avoid, at least for the moment, its
fourth consecutive losing season.
"We're just going to have to find a way to get a win this week,"
Trubisky said. "There's no getting used to it. There's no being
content. We've just got to work harder, stick together and find a
way to win this Sunday."
Bears running back Jordan Howard, who has 847 rushing yards and five
touchdowns in his second year, can help to stabilize the offense.
During a 26-6 victory over the 49ers last season, Howard shined with
32 carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns.
Chicago ranks No. 29 in total offense and No. 12 in total defense.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks leads the club with seven sacks but has
not registered one in the past three games.
San Francisco ranks No. 21 in total offense and No. 29 in total
defense. Veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil has provided a rare
bright spot with a team-leading 4 1/2 sacks, and rookie first-round
pick Solomon Thomas is tied for second with two sacks.
Running back Carlos Hyde leads the 49ers on the ground with 639
yards and four touchdowns. The team's top receiver is Marquise
Goodwin, who comes into this weekend with 27 catches for 578 yards
and a score.
However, all eyes will be on Garoppolo as he takes command of the
huddle. A strong finish to the season could only improve the
likelihood that he will sign a long-term deal or receive a
high-price franchise tag to stay with San Francisco beyond this
"I'm trying not to think about the future too much," Garoppolo said.
"I've learned in the past that when your mind wanders like that --
quarterbacking in this league is hard enough, so when you start
thinking about other things, you're going to have a tough time. I'm
staying focused on the Bears this week.
"I hold myself to a high level. I've been doing that my whole life.
That won't stop."
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