Jimmy Garoppolo is not shy about keeping his teammates after practice. We saw members of the San Francisco 49ers offense stick around for extra work following a subpar session during minicamp in June. Something similar occurred on Saturday. Garoppolo and a few of his receivers stayed late to get extra reps on deep passes.
The additional work stemmed from Garoppolo missing Marquise Goodwin twice downfield during practice. San Francisco's quarterback had been sharp through three practices, but he'd yet to connect on a deep shot downfield. That changed on Sunday when Garoppolo lofted a 45-yard pass down the right sideline and placed it perfectly over Goodwin's shoulder. The long completion drew a big cheer from the fans in attendance.
"It's obviously good, you feel better about it when you hit them," Garoppolo said. "But, it's probably one of the hardest things to do in football, and it's probably one of the last things that a quarterback and receiver get in connection with. So, we're working at it every day just like everything else."
Goodwin's elite speed is an obvious asset for the 49ers offense, but it also brings with it a different set of challenges for a quarterback. Goodwin's ability to get down the field so quickly forces Garoppolo to process everything that much faster. A quick decision is vital in order to get the ball out before Goodwin is already too far downfield.
Conversely, it takes a bit more patience when targeting every other receiver on the roster. That's why there are so many variables in play.
"It's different throwing a go ball to Marquise than it is to another receiver," Garoppolo said. "I've never had a receiver like Marquise where you have to change a couple of things, tweak a couple of things. It just happens differently. That acclimation to one another is obviously growing and like I said, it was good to hit one today."
Despite never connecting on a home-run play in 2017, Garoppolo and Goodwin still showed excellent rapport. Goodwin averaged almost six catches for 77 yards during Garoppolo's five starts last season. That includes back-to-back 100-yard games against the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans.
Fans hope Sunday's long connection between the two will be the first of many such plays in 2018. Kyle Shanahan is confident that consistency with the deep ball will come in time.
"I'm not worried about making those, but they're not automatic," Shanahan said. "You need to practice them. It's hard to get opportunities down the field going against cover-three. It's a bend but don't break scheme so it's kind of tough to get those opps. But, when you do get them, you've got to make the best out of that rep."