SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t feel the need to throw any chairs, yell at teammates or do just about anything different following a season-opening loss.
Sure, he might have lost his first game as a starting quarterback since he was back at Eastern Illinois, but Garoppolo kept the same approach he had while leading the San Francisco 49ers to five straight wins to end last season.
“I think it’s pretty easy,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “I come in here every day grinding, trying to be the best quarterback for this team that I can be. As long as I have that mindset, I think I’ll be all right.”
Garoppolo was far from his best last week in a 24-16 loss at Minnesota. He completed less than half his passes, threw three interceptions and led the 49ers (0-1) to just one touchdown in his first start since signing a five-year, $137.5 million contract in the offseason.
Garoppolo earned that deal after winning his first seven career starts, including two in New England in 2016. Garoppolo’s last loss as a starter came in the FCS playoffs when Towson beat Eastern Illinois 49-39.
That game ended Garoppolo’s college career so the last time he had to come back from a loss came after a loss at Northern Illinois on Sept. 21, 2013, and Garoppolo bounced back to throw for 322 yards and three TDs in a 42-7 win over Eastern Kentucky.
He will try for a similar result in the home opener Sunday against Detroit (0-1) and coach Kyle Shanahan sees the same approach as always from his quarterback.
“I’d be disappointed if it was different,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy tries his hardest every week. I know he didn’t have his best game last week, but he doesn’t need to come in here and make stuff up. He’s had some successful games in this league. He’s going to have plenty more. He just needs to get back to work.”
Garoppolo went 15 for 33 for 261 yards last week against a Minnesota defense that was ranked first in the NFL a year ago and his three interceptions were the most by a San Francisco quarterback in a season opener since Hall of Famer Steve Young did it in 1993 against Pittsburgh.
One interception came when Kendrick Bourne ran the wrong pattern, another on a high throw and the third when Garoppolo was trying to lead a late comeback.
There were some bright moments, too, most notably when Garoppolo spun out of pressure and found Dante Pettis with an off-balance throw to the back of the end zone for a 22-yard TD.
“I like guys who aren’t scared to fail,” Shanahan said. “They’re going to let it rip. They’re not going to just guess and gamble, but they’re trying to win the game and they try to see stuff and they try to let it rip. You do the best you can and then you live with the consequences. What you don’t want is someone who isn’t sure and they’re scared to get blamed so they sit there and take a sack. It’s really hard to win when you have that unless you depend on everyone else.”
That play led to San Francisco’s only touchdown on four red zone drives against the Vikings. That was also a problem last year when the Niners had TDs on just 12 of 28 red zone trips in Garoppolo’s starts.
Some of the problems in the opener were self-inflicted, like when Alfred Morris lost a fumble at the 1 in the first half and when Garoppolo threw high to an open George Kittle later in the game. There was also a third-down pass to Pierre Garcon that was broken up in the end zone, leading to another field goal.
“It gets tougher down there, and when you have an opportunity and you miss it you will not have a good day in the red zone,” Shanahan said. “Not going to reinvent the wheel, but we’re going to try and get better at that stuff.”
NOTES: The Niners placed LB Brock Coyle on IR with a concussion and a broken bone in his back. He can’t have contact for at least six weeks. ... G Mike Person (foot), G Joshua Garnett (toe), WR Marquise Goodwin (thigh), S Adrian Colbert (hamstring) and LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) all missed practice and are day to day. ... The team signed LB Terence Garvin to a one-year deal and promoted OL Najee Toran from the practice squad to the active roster. ... WR Frank Stephens was signed to the practice squad. ... WR Aaron Burbridge was released off IR with an injury settlement.
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