When you look at life from a psychological standpoint, you have leaders and you have followers. Well in the Taylor Blitz Times lexicon of NFL football describing the quarterback position, you have the alpha and the beta.
The alpha infuses confidence in his football team through his play and leadership. His teammates are inspired through his verve, spirit, and fight which in turn raises their level of play to meet his. You can see the confidence in their eyes when the game is tight. He doesn’t shrink when games are on the line or when the team is up against a superior opponent. This is what every coach covets each year in the NFL draft.
Then you have the beta quarterback that many teams seem to be afflicted with. He comes through with the physical gifts that scouts and coaches can see where he can improve, and can possibly sculpt a winner from. He shows promise and can win you a few football games yet isn’t a leader. This is the guy that looks to his teammates for confidence when they’re looking to him for theirs.
Subsequently when the situations get tight or they’re up against tough teams, he shrinks at the moment of truth. Sure they win games they are supposed to win but the superior opponent he needs to beat to become a champion, he will always come up short. Late game interceptions, missed connections in crucial times, & mangled last minute drives which short ciruit his team’s efforts. Most important he always loses when an alpha quarterback is leading the other team. Constant big game heartbreak follows this guy….always.
Well this is how The Chancellor of Football sees the game. As you read those first two paragraphs, certain quarterbacks started to form in your mind.
One of the most unique aspect of the beta quarterback is he almost rises to prominence in the same way. Usually they are under appreciated talents that are among the best of the back-up quarterbacks.
Good enough to make the roster, run the scout team offense, and if we lose our starter he can pilot the ship for 3 or 4 games. Yet with the advent of complete NFL free agency, these are the guys signed after they have done well when they have relieved an injured starter. Jimmy Garoppolo was signed after performing admirably for Tom Brady in New England and is the poster boy for the beta quarterback.
The San Francisco 49ers had fallen on hard times and were in the middle of a meltdown under overmatched Coach Chip Kelly. The Niners were struggling with Colin Kaepernick finding rhythm in Chip Kelly’s offense after a successful run with Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Then the 49ers brought in Kyle Shanahan who was the hotshot offensive coordinator who had taken the Atlanta offense to Super Bowl LI. To run his offense he needed a franchise QB and the team jettisoned Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert as each appeared damaged goods. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo who had gone 2-0 during Tom Brady’s suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season.
The 49ers surprised opponents in 2017 when they went 5-0 under Garoppolo. However the sample size wasn’t large enough to make a full judgment. He couldnt finish the ’17 or ’18 seasons and in 8 games he had thrown 12 TDs yet had an eyebrow raising 8 interceptions. Desperate for any competent quarterbacking after the last few years GM John Lynch & Shanahan had tied their success to Garoppolo’s wagon.They began to assemble talent around him. The team made progress and when Garoppolo didn’t do so well, the thought process was: “Once he matures, he won’t throw those passes.”
However that incessant tic never seems to leave this guy. It’s in his DNA and it becomes glaring once the rest of the team assembled with him should thrive with his leadership.
All season long as it became apparent the 49ers had turned the corner experts held out Jimmy G was the weak link that would let San Fran down. The Chancellor of Football was one of them. 49er fans would point to games he performed well in yet didn’t notice how he struggled in a prime time game at home with Western division leading Seattle. He played well as long as the team was out in front and they could sic that front four on opponents.
Once the 49ers outlasted New Orleans and Drew Brees 48-46 it looked like Garoppolo was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong. Yet a knock kneed performance in a 29-22 home loss and a mundane Monday Night performance when they beat Seattle 26-21 raised suspicions.
When Shanahan started to cover up his QB in the 2nd quarter of the 49ers divisional playoff win over Minnesota, it appeared he lost confidence in him. He turned the game over to his rushing game and defense and nearly won a title. Lost in 49er euphoria was Shanahan only allowed his QB to throw the football 27 times total in 2 playoff games. He really didnt beat any Alpha QBs as the 49ers used smoke and mirrors to keep him from throwing in obvious situations.
Then came Super Bowl LIV and alpha QB Patrick Mahomes. For 3 quarters it looked like the Niners were about to pull the upset and Jimmy G was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong.
Then the moment of truth… San Francisco was up 10 and the pilot light in the alpha Patrick Mahomes came on. He made play after play to will his team back in the game. The beta?? Jimmy G went 2 for 9 in the 4th quarter when his team desperately needed a play from him. All we got were deer in the headlights looks on television closeups. He had one last chance to bail his team out with 1:40 to go… Emmanuel Sanders split two Chiefs defensive backs and was streaking to a game winning touchdown… all he needed was one Garoppolo throw from a clean pocket. Jimmy overthrew him then had a sack and forced fumble on the next play to kill the 49ers Super Bowl chances.
Had he completed it he would be have gone into the pantheon of Super Bowl champions and would have completed his winning touchdown in about the same spot Joe Montana completed his to John Taylor to win Super Bowl XXIII. Same spot in the same stadium some 30 years earlier…
Like Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo is a beta QB….fools gold. They don’t have an alpha and they know it. The rest of us had already come to that conclusion before Super Bowl Sunday. This game just cemented it. Like S
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