MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – When the line between good and great quarterbacks is drawn in the clutching moments of the Super Bowl, only one of Jimmy Garoppolo's passes really matters.
With four points behind the 49ers and 93 seconds before the end of the fourth quarter, Emmanuel Sanders sat behind the chief's defense for a possible touchdown of 51 meters. The ball sailed over Sander's head as he stumbled to the floor and lay on his back, hands on his head, to recognize the missed opportunity.
How close was he to saving the 49ers from losing to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl 2020?
"It's a stupid question," said a terse Sanders.
The distance – it looked like 5 meters – is the difference between the 49ers and the Lombardi Trophy, between Garoppolo, who responds to his criticism and comes back next season with suggestions that he brings with him for the defense-driven journey.
"We missed some recordings tonight, some plays that we normally do," said Garoppolo. "It was a difficult question."
Garoppolo started sharply and hit 18 of his first 22 passes when the 49ers got a 20-10 lead at the end of the third quarter. He ended 20 out of 31 for 219 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
However, the 49ers only saw three first losses on their first three owners in the fourth quarter – which resulted in two punts and sales with downs – and the chiefs scored three touchdowns over that period. Game over.
"A good team, a good defense," said Garoppolo. “You have to give them some credit. They had some new wrinkles in the game. With two weeks of preparation time, you can expect it. "
Perhaps the biggest accusation was that coach Kyle Shanahan didn't trust Garoppolo because he had been conservative training in the last two minutes of an undecided first half because he was afraid of what his team would do if he got another ball to the bosses ,
And Shanahan called for a 42-yard field goal in fourth and second places at the beginning of the third quarter.
"Jimmy is a baller," the left said against Joe Staley, the longest serving member of the 49ers. "I'm grateful that he's our leader, our quarterback. I'll go with this guy every day."
Garoppolo has two Super Bowl rings to replace Tom Brady, so he knows better than anyone that quarterbacks will be judged in February, especially if he has a $ 137 million contract. He spoke in awe of Brady's behavior when he led the Patriots in the Super Bowl LI to make a 25-point comeback and overtime win over the Hawks when Shanahan, the Atlanta offensive coordinator at the time, was finished.
"I think there were some good things," said Shanhan of Garoppolo. "I thought he was playing okay."
The fall after Sanders was the third of three incompleteness in a row and Garoppolo was released in fourth. It wasn't the end of the storybook for his first full season as a starter when he returned after an ACL injury in 2018.
"These are the moments you dream of," said Garoppolo. "We got on the right note and couldn't finish. A damn good trip, but in the end people only remember the wins and losses."