NFC Championship lessons: Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have to pass for Niners to win

The 49ers once again showed they’re the most complete team in the NFL following their NFC Championship victory Sunday over the Packers. The one question remaining about San Francisco is whether Jimmy Garoppolo can win a game without the benefit of a dominant rushing attack, but frankly, that’s already been answered in many respects. Jimmy G is now 21-5 as Niners starting quarterback, never mind his impressive six-quarter showing as Tom Brady’s replacement in 2016.

Garoppolo may not be a great QB yet, but he’s not Ryan Tannehill, either. Kyle Shanahan should not dread putting the ball in his hands.

Of course, that doesn’t mean San Francisco wants to pin the game on Garoppolo. The Niners prefer dominating defenses on the ground, and allowing their ferocious pass-rush to wreck havoc on the opposing offense. That was the formula for their 37-20 win over the Packers, which let’s be real, was over by halftime. San Fran led 27-0 at the half.

The early betting line for Super Bowl 54 places the Chiefs at -1.5, meaning this matchup is setting up to be a pick ‘em. Before we place our bets for the big game, let’s take some time to review the lessons we learned from the Niners’ dominant NFC Championship showing.

Jimmy Garoppolo only threw eight passes in the NFC Championship, because he didn’t need to throw more. (Credit: Jeff Chiu — Associated Press)

Niners can win without Garoppolo throwing the ball

Garoppolo only attempted eight passes Sunday, because the 49ers averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Running back Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards on 29 carries with four touchdowns.

In other words, there was no reason for Garoppolo to throw. The Niners led the NFC in rushing this season, and they will try to run the football until they’re stopped.

Given Garoppolo’s propensity for turnovers — he threw 13 interceptions in the regular season — it’s understandable why Shanahan takes a conservative approach with him. On Sunday, the Niners’ running game gave them more than enough offense. Then their defense finished the job.

Niners D torments opposing QB’s

Though Aaron Rodgers finished with 326 yards and two touchdowns, remember: the Packers were held scoreless at halftime. Many of Rodgers’ numbers were accumulated in the second half, when the game was out of hand.

In the first half, Rodgers often looked rushed and confused, throwing a brutal interception to Emmanuel Moseley. That’s how quarterbacks typically react when they’re faced the constant pressure. The 49ers sacked Rodgers three times Sunday, with Bosa wrapping up four tackles in total.

Don’t let Kyle Shanahan’s baby face fool you: he’s a brilliant NFL coach (Credit: USA Today Sports)

Kyle Shanahan is an offensive genius

It’s fair to say Kyle Shanahan probably wouldn’t have a head coaching job if it weren’t for his surname. But make no mistake: his offensive brilliance justifies the nepotism.

Look no further than Mostert, who couldn’t stick with six organizations before signing on with the Niners this season. The wayward back rushed for 772 yards this year, making himself a valuable of the Niners’ backfield rotation.

Shanahan proved he belongs coaching at this level when he made Matt Ryan into an MVP. His work with the 49ers, and in particular the schemes he’s devised for their running backs, are the proverbial icing on his already stellar resume.

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