SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Late in the San Francisco 49ers’ final minicamp practice, coach Kyle Shanahan wanted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to take a rep or two against a full 11-man defense for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee on Sept. 23, 2018.
Shanahan’s instructions for the defensive line were clear, or so he thought: Stand still, put your hands up and do not touch Garoppolo.
“The animals that they are, why we love them, they couldn’t help it,” said Shanahan of a defense that moved toward Garoppolo. “I saw it, so I stopped it. I wasn’t going to mess with it.”
No damage was done, and soon enough, all sides were laughing at the quickly aborted rep.
“I liked it, after I got over it,” Shanahan said.
Garoppolo has not yet been cleared for full contact and was kept out of team drills for the offseason program, though he participated in 7-on-7 and individual drills.
But Garoppolo has mostly moved past the rehabilitation stages of his recovery and is focused on playing at a high level once he is fully cleared. To that end, Garoppolo is turning this summer to Tom House — one of the NFL’s most well-known quarterback whisperers — and the staff at 3DQB at their quarterback academy in Huntington Beach, California.
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In his short time working with Garoppolo, House has already been impressed by what he’s seen. Garoppolo checks many of the same boxes as the big-name quarterbacks with whom House has worked in the past — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are just a handful of the star signal-callers who have spent time under House’s tutelage.
House, who began working with quarterbacks in 2006, when Brees was rehabbing his dislocated right shoulder, said Garoppolo is as humble and hungry for success as those other star quarterbacks, which makes his job much easier.
“When he shows up, you know what you’re going to get,” House said.
Over the next month-plus, Garoppolo will work with House, 3DQB CEO Adam Dedeaux, motion mechanics instructor John Beck and motion performance expert Taylor Kelly on everything from fundamental throwing mechanics to nutrition and sleep.
Some of Garoppolo’s pass-catching teammates will join him for training sessions (though Garoppolo wouldn’t name names), which also provides an opportunity to stay on top of specific Niners plays and concepts.
“During these 40 days, you do so many different things, physical, mental,” Garoppolo said. “You’re trying to recover at the same time [as] getting ready for training camp. I think just having the timing of the offense down, being in rhythm with the receivers that I’ll work with and everything, and just getting comfortable. It’s been a little while since I’ve been in 11-on-11 football, so just getting as comfortable as I can as quickly as I can.”
Garoppolo and House hadn’t worked together before this offseason, but they met each other when Garoppolo was in New England because of House’s long-standing relationship with Brady.
As Garoppolo approached his rehab this offseason, he went in search of someone to help him balance his rehabilitation while also fine-tuning his performance. Agent Don Yee, who represents Garoppolo and Brady, connected Garoppolo to House.
Garoppolo got his first taste of working with House & Co. before the Niners began their offseason program in April. At the time, he was still being eased in. The team managed the amount of repetitions he took and tweaked the intensity some to ensure that he wasn’t pushing too hard, too fast.
Because Garoppolo is further along now, the workload intensity will ramp up this summer.
“As the performance part of the rehab, we are working in lockstep with the medical rehab,” House said. “We just make sure to coordinate accordingly. You don’t want to undo anything the medical has done, and you don’t want to overdo anything on the performance side. When you’ve got a guy like Jimmy — and I had met him and got to know him a little bit when he was with the Patriots — and obviously he gets along really well with the young coaches on our staff, so it was a good fit in both directions.”
Although House politely declined to talk about the specifics of what he has planned for Garoppolo, he did offer some insight into how he and the other coaches at 3DQB handle a quarterback coming off a serious injury.
A typical week for quarterbacks working with House and the 3DQB staff includes five sessions spread out over the course of seven days. Each session lasts three hours.
Those sessions aren’t limited to simple throwing mechanics or drills, either. House, 72, is constantly learning and evaluating new technology to find better and more in-depth methods to study the biomechanics of throwing frame by frame.
For Garoppolo, the next month and a half will be every bit as important as the time that preceded it. This season will be a big one for Garoppolo, who signed a five-year, $137.5 million deal in February 2018 but appeared in just three games before the ACL injury ended his season.
Slowly but surely, Garoppolo has progressed, and the Niners are confident he will be ready to go at the start of training camp.
Now, it’s about getting ready for what will happen when Shanahan can’t blow a whistle to stop the pass rush.
“I think all of that will come with time,” Garoppolo said. “I’ll try to implement as many drills as I can during these 40 days or so. But, I think once until the bullets start flying and everything, then we’ll really see.”
Father says Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III injured thigh during a move
A Raiders source said the team was “told [Ruggs] will be fine.”
“He was trying to move a trailer or something — move furniture or something — and the trailer just kind of pinned him against a car or a wall or something,” Henry Ruggs Jr. said. “He’s pretty much OK, I’m about to go out there and see him in a little bit. It was just like a little open wound on his leg, a little incision. Like something had stuck him right there on his thigh a little bit.”
Ruggs III, the No. 12 overall draft pick, was the first receiver selected in April’s draft, a historically deep draft for the position. He was also the fastest player in the draft, having run a 4.27-second 40 time at the combine.
Like every player in the draft, the rookie has been reduced to virtual meetings with his new team because of the coronavirus pandemic. Being injured would obviously slow any other development.
“The Raiders are aware of a report regarding an off-field injury to Henry Ruggs III. Respecting Henry’s right to medical privacy, the team will not be commenting on the report,” the team said in a statement.
Ruggs Jr., meanwhile, said his son is “just having to walk on crutches. Not putting as much pressure on it.”
Precautions due to the coronavirus, the elder Ruggs said, have not allowed him yet to speak to the doctor who treated his son.
Jaguars’ Josh Dobbs says SpaceX teamwork like a football team
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Josh Dobbs was nervous and awestruck at the same time while he was watching the historic SpaceX Crew Dragon launch on Saturday morning.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback had spent a month at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, participating in an NFLPA externship so he knew how much work and preparation went into the launch of the capsule that would eventually dock with the International Space Station. He told NBC Sports that he was still amazed at the experience.
“I really felt the nervousness watching the countdown, knowing what those astronauts have gone through to get to this moment,” Dobbs said. “Being able to see the teamwork involved in preparation for this launch was incredible for me. It’s so much like a football team — you see how everyone doing their job fits together and makes something great happen. That’s what I really appreciated about the experience.”
Last Saturday’s launch is part of the DEMO-2 mission, which is a partnership with SpaceX to send Americans to the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. The Crew Dragon capsule launched at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday and docked with the International Space Station at 10:16 a.m. ET Sunday. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are expected to remain aboard for one to three months.
What Dobbs told NBC Sports echoes what he said earlier last month for an ESPN story in regards to what he experienced while he was watching a live simulation of the process of loading a rocket with propellant during his NFLPA externship last February. Dobbs said he was impressed at the intricacies of the teamwork required for just that one part of the totality required to launch a rocket into space. That’s no different than the process required to run just one football play, Dobbs said — on a significantly larger scale, of course.
“You’re in this big wide room with hundreds of monitors and the people I was with in instrumentation take up the five monitors to the right,” Dobbs told ESPN. “Everyone else is working on a completely different subsystem of this rocket and everyone has to be on the Ps and Qs for the rocket to launch, for them to have a go for launch. So to be able to sit in there and see, OK, this correlates so much to football. … You have 53 people but everyone’s different. But everyone still has to understand their position and how it affects the big picture for something as little as a play to go right and then for the team to win.
“To see the dynamics and it kind of is good to see them not in your normal everyday world of football. You’re able to see them in a different light so you’re able to kind of rewire your mind to be able to apply those concepts to the football world.”
Dobbs graduated from Tennessee in 2017 with a degree — and 4.0 grade point average — in aerospace engineering.
Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes hopes world can become like locker rooms ‘where everyone is accepted’
Patrick Mahomes posted a statement to his Twitter account saying “the senseless murders that we have witnessed are wrong and cannot continue in our country.”
“All I can think about is how I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background, and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal,” wrote Mahomes, whose father Pat was a longtime major league pitcher.
“I hope our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted. We all need to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and become something better. Let’s be the world where my little sister, generations to outcome, and even my future kids will grow up never having to experience these tragedies and instead love each other unconditionally!”
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback also sent prayers to the family and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“As I have watched everything that has happened over the last week and even before then, I have tried to put my feelings into words,” he wrote. “As a kid who was born with a black dad and a white mom, I have been blessed to be accepted for who I am my entire life, but that isn’t the case for everyone.”
He concluded his post with: “Love and Unite! #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd”
Also Monday, Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich opened his media availability with a statement on racial injustice.
“Injustice. Few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice. When we see it, feel it, experience it, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s not enough for a person who looks like me to say, ‘I’m not racist.’ This kind of talk and thinking typically lends itself to a posture of neutrality, indifference and passivity. It’s easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t directly impact you. This attitude simply doesn’t invoke any conviction about doing that is right and standing up for the inherent dignity and rights of all people, no matter the color of their skin.
“I stand firmly behind the Colts statement and in particular, the phrase that says, ‘We abhor racism.’ Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable. There’s no form of it that is acceptable, and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice for far too long. I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and act in ways that build each other up, not tear each other down. I believe each one of us can make a difference if we’re willing to grow personally and display the courage necessary for us to take steps of progress in this most important of issues.”
ESPN’s Mike Wells contributed to this report.
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