It's commonplace in the NFL for quarterbacks to buy Christmas gifts for their offensive linemen. Jimmy Garoppolo confirmed on Wednesday that even though he has only been the San Francisco 49ers starter for a month, he still plans to take care of his guys up front (although he didn't specify what he would be getting Joe Staley and Co).
But given the events during last week's win over the Tennessee Titans, Garoppolo is likely to be adding Marquise Goodwin to his shopping to-do list. That's because Goodwin saved him from not one but two would-be interceptions.
In the second quarter, Garoppolo tried to throw the ball away but because of the pressure, the ball sailed short of the sideline and looked to be headed straight into the arms of Titans linebacker Erik Walden. Goodwin, who was already much further downfield, retreated and made a play on the ball. Goodwin ended up stealing the ball away from Walden and turned the near-pick into a 10-yard completion. Goodwin's save also led to San Francisco's lone touchdown of the day, a 5-yard pass from Garoppolo to Garrett Celek.
In the fourth quarter, with the 49ers trailing 20-19, Garoppolo took a shot to the end zone for Goodwin. The ball was underthrown, and Adoree' Jackson nearly had an interception but Goodwin knocked it to the ground at the last minute. The drive resulted with Robbie Gould's fifth field goal of the game.
Had Goodwin not made those plays, the turnovers would have cost the 49ers 10 points and likely the game. Those blemishes also would have altered the perception of Garoppolo's 381-yard, one-touchdown and interception-free stat line. Instead, the 49ers are on a three-game winning streak, and it was announced on Thursday that Garoppolo won the league's "FedEx Air Player of the Week" award.
All's well that ends well, as they say.
"Yeah, I was trying to throw it away and I got hit as I threw it, so the ball kind of fluttered out of my hands a little bit," Garoppolo said. "But, Marquise, talk about an unbelievable play just helping your quarterback. I owe him one for that. That easily could've been intercepted, but he made a hell of a play on it and it turned out to be a big play."
Goodwin posted a career-high 10 receptions for 114 yards in what was his second-straight 100-yard performance. Garoppolo isn't surprised by his quick chemistry with his go-to receiver.
"We're in here for so many hours out of the day that just naturally (...) you learn his body language, how he's feeling that day," Garoppolo said. "You just spend so much time with them it's kind of eerie how well you know somebody. I think just the reps we're putting in in practice, the extra stuff we're doing, the extra meetings, talking what he sees and what I see. It's all the skill position guys. They've really bought into it, and I think we're doing a good job with it."
Goodwin has plenty to be thankful for himself. Since Garoppolo became the 49ers starter, the wideout is averaging 106.33 yards per game and needs only 103 yards over the last two weeks to claim his first 1,000-yard season. In addition, Goodwin has a chance to become just the third player in franchise history to reach 100 receiving yards in three-straight games when the 49ers host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16.
"It's people helping people I guess," Garoppolo said.
The 49ers will need big games from both playmakers if they're to beat the 10-4 Jaguars on Sunday and their top-ranked scoring defense.