When you win, you get to say whatever you want.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark is feeling himself after his team earned a 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. After the victory, he didn’t shy away from criticizing the opponent — specifically, San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
«You paying the guy $140 million, $130 million, whatever he’s getting paid, man,» Clark told Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager. «He’s gotta throw the ball. Obviously he didn’t do that. They threw for about 200 yards on checkdowns; that ain’t enough to win a game against us.»
There’s actually quite a bit to pull apart, there. On one hand, there’s no denying that the 49ers blew it. They had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, and made a series of questionable decisions that resulted in a very regrettable loss. Garoppolo played a significant role in that — San Francisco attempted 20 passes in the second half compared to only 10 rush attempts — and his overthrow of Emmanuel Sanders on a would-be go-ahead touchdown within the final two minutes was a huge, huge miss.
Garoppolo also made a poor decision on a first-half interception by Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland, and he has been good for one of those almost every game. But outside of those two aforementioned throws, it’s not as if Garoppolo’s poor execution was the reason San Francisco’s passing offense wasn’t more effective.
For instance, if an extremely-questionable offensive pass interference penalty hadn’t been called on tight end George Kittle late in the first half, Jimmy G would have been over 250 passing yards in the Super Bowl. Add in another third-down incompletion late in the fourth quarter when Garoppolo overthrew receiver Kendrick Bourne — but only after Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann committed an obvious helmet-to-helmet penalty while contacting Garoppolo on a blitz — and it’s easy to point to a lot of missing yards directly tied to some questionable and/or missed calls by the officials. If you’re going to evaluate him on his final stat line, you can’t ignore the context within which it came.
That pass to Kittle, by the way? An absolute dime.
And if we’re being fair, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ stat line arguably was inflated by the same kind of official error. For instance, if you remove the 44-yard completion to receiver Tyreke Hill in the fourth quarter — a play on which Kansas City offensive tackle Eric Fisher got away with a blatant hold of 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa — his stat line would look awfully similar to Jimmy G’s.
Also, Garoppolo isn’t the one calling the plays. That’s coach Kyle Shanahan, and one could argue the 49ers played far too conservatively throughout the game, and it was just a matter of time until it came back to bite them. Perhaps with some more rush attempts sprinkled in during the fourth quarter, San Francisco achieves a much happier result.
It’s fair to criticize Garoppolo for the pick and overthrow, but he’s not the reason the 49ers lost.
Chiefs’ Frank Clark blasts 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo after 2020 Super Bowl originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area