SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Much of the football world — outside of the San Francisco Bay Area — is waiting for Jimmy G to crack.
Despite the profound success of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who owns a 22-5 career record as a starter and has the 49ers one win away from a Super Bowl berth just a year removed from going 4-12 when he missed most of the season with a torn ACL, people seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to be exposed as less than the quarterback he’s shown himself to be through 27 NFL starts.
Maybe it’s just envy.
Maybe the outside world views Garoppolo as a silver spoon guy, having been drafted by the Patriots and learned at the feet of the great Tom Brady and the elite environs of the New England dynasty.
Maybe people are just jealous of his magazine-cover looks, or put off by the fact that nothing seems to bother him or come close to knocking him off the axis of his perfect life.
Whatever it is, a lot of the NFL-watching public is not all-in on believing Garoppolo is an elite quarterback capable of carrying his team to the Super Bowl.
Yet, Jimmy G’s a win away from that very feat after having just completed his first full, injury-free season as a starter, leading the 49ers to 14 wins in 17 games, including a playoff win over the Vikings.
It seems fitting that the highest hurdle for Garoppolo and the 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship game is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is regularly deified as one of the greatest magicians among quarterbacks in league history, and for good reason, because he’s that good.
So, this is a fertile week for the doubters to doubt Jimmy G.
Discredit him at your own risk.
“It is kind of ridiculous,’’ 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey told The Post on Wednesday. “What is he — 22-5 as a starter? That says it all. He’s a winner. That’s all that matters. I mean, he’s proven that when we need him to, he delivers. He went down to New Orleans and dueled a Hall of Famer [Saints quarterback Drew Brees in Week 14] and beat him. He’s gone out there and thrown four touchdown passes — he’s done that multiple times this season when we’ve needed him to.
“He doesn’t care about anything else other than winning games.’’
In the 49ers’ highest-profile game of the season — their 27-10 dismantling of the Vikings in last week’s NFC divisional round — they rushed 47 times for 186 yards while Garoppolo completed just 11 passes for 131 yards.
That somehow has perpetuated the theory Garoppolo is basking behind the wheel of self-driving Tesla without even having to look at the road or touch the steering wheel.
What’s conveniently forgotten are games like the 49ers’ 48-46 win over the Saints, when Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four TDs. Or their 28-25 win over Arizona when he threw for 317 yards and four TDs. Or the 36-26 win over Arizona when he threw for 424 yards and four TDs.
If Rodgers had engineered those wins, he’d have been universally hailed for carrying the Packers on his shoulders.
Garoppolo? Not so much.
“That’s just how this world works,’’ 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday. “We run the ball last week so a lot of people are going to say that Jimmy didn’t do enough. But there’s lots of games this year when we haven’t been able to run the ball and we won it by passing. I know Jimmy doesn’t care how we win. He is so locked into whatever the plan is and whatever we’re doing.’’
Jimmy G’s take on the lack of credit he gets?
“As long as we win,’’ he said, “I’m pretty happy.’’
Those in the 49ers locker room swear by Garoppolo.
“He doesn’t do anything for the cameras, he’s a down-to-earth, genuine human being … just an incredible leader,’’ left tackle Joe Staley said.
“On the field, he’s so cool, calm and collected and — under pressure — nothing fazes him,’’ McGlinchey said. “Off the field, what makes him such a good leader is he’s just one of the guys. He doesn’t like all the stuff that comes with being an NFL quarterback. He’s as genuine a human being that you’ll ever find — so humble and such a hard worker. All he cares about is being a good person and winning football games.
“And he’s good at both.’’
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