In six games (five starts) for San Francisco last year, Garoppolo produced 1,560 passing yards, seven passing TDs and one rushing TD. In February, the 49ers made him the highest-paid player in the NFL, signing Garoppolo to a mammoth, five-year, $137.5-million deal. A month later, Kirk Cousins got a bit more per year, but you get the point -- in San Fran they love their Jimmy. Why all the love? In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the 49ers, Garoppolo came over in a surprise mid-season trade with New England and closed the season with five consecutive wins. He is 7-0 as a starter (2-0 in New England). He was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft and spent the better part of five seasons backing up Tom Brady and learning the “Patriot Way.” He did not get many opportunities, but when he did play, he played well. In San Francisco, he failed to throw a TD in his first start against a top-10 defense in Chicago, but he threw at least one touchdown in his next four starts. In the last two games of the season, against the Jaguars and the Rams, he threw for two touchdowns in each game. Garoppolo was sacked just eight times last season.
We’re dealing with a pretty small sample size. Garoppolo has played in just 23 games in his career and has started only seven. Last season, he had a TD-INT ratio of 7-to-5. Over a full season, that projects to 22 touchdowns and 16 picks -- stats that won’t excite anyone, except perhaps opposing defenses. The 49ers' cupboard is pretty bare at the RB and WR positions, even following the acquisitions of vet Jerick McKinnon and second-round WR-RS Dante Pettis.
The 5-0 finish stands out more than anything. Garoppolo has a nice combination of youth (turns 27 in November) and seasoning. He is unlikely to go through the mistake-filled slumps endured by other inexperienced QBs. With limited data, ranking Garoppolo this high is a projection. He has answered the bell every time he has been given an opportunity, and we see no reason to doubt him this time. If San Francisco can put some offensive talent around their franchise player, Garoppolo could develop into an elite fantasy QB.