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.”
Bears kicker Pineiro questionable with knee injury
No such luck.
Pineiro will go into Monday night’s game in Washington questionable on the injury report because of right knee trouble.
Pineiro was hurt Friday, with coach Matt Nagy saying it happened during weightlifting. Pineiro didn’t practice Friday, but did kick on a limited basis at Saturday’s practice.
“Especially after what just happened with us and what we’ve been through (with kickers), and what he just did this past weekend, it’s like we’re on a roll here and then all of a sudden something crazy like this happens,” Nagy said. “But I try to stay positive with it, and I think we’ll be OK. We’ve just got to see how it goes the next couple days.”
The Bears had one other player who was a surprise on the injury report. Safety Eddie Jackson came up with a knee injury in Friday’s practice and was able to go Saturday only on a limited basis. He also is questionable.
The Bears conducted a massive offseason kicking search after Cody Parkey double-doinked a 43-yard field goal miss to end the 16-15 playoff loss to Philadelphia. Parkey was waived.
Chicago brought in nine kickers at one point in the spring, traded a seventh-round draft pick for Pineiro, and then he beat out Elliott Fry to win the kicking job. Pineiro is 4 for 4, including last week’s winner and another 52-yarder against Denver.
“I’m going to be on the cautious side with him, and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make,” Nagy said.
Pineiro didn’t think it was serious at first, according to Nagy.
“Just thought that it was something that was minor, and I think as the time has gone by and then going out there today he just felt it a little bit,” Nagy said. “So we’re just going to pull back and see where it’s at and be optimistic and try to do everything we can to make sure that we’re taking care of it, the pain.”
And if Pineiro can’t kick?
“That’s a good question,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to work through that. I know [punter] Pat O’Donnell has some experience. But we’ll see how this thing goes. I don’t want to rush to judgment yet. That’s not where we’re at.”
At least the Bears know a lot about some of the potential emergency kickers available.
“There are a lot of different scenarios that could happen, but I’m not going down that route,” Nagy said. “I feel good that things will be OK. If they’re not, then we just have to have a contingency plan when that time comes, and if that’s something that we’ve got to do something different, then we’ll do that.”
Jackson’s injury is different than the one he had earlier in the week to go on the injury report. He had a shoulder problem then, but went through a full practice on Friday and then suffered knee soreness afterward. He practiced only on a limited basis Saturday.
Defensive end Bilal Nichols is out for the game due to the broken hand suffered last week.
Pats activate first International Pathway player
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fullback Jakob Johnson became the first player to enter the NFL through the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster when he was promoted from the New England Patriots practice squad on Saturday.
The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 and aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany and played in 47 games at the University of Tennessee, initially as a linebacker before switching to tight end. In 2018, he appeared in 12 games for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.
The Patriots were assigned Johnson as part of the International Pathway Program on April 8. The three other teams in the AFC East were also assigned players as part of a random draw, and none of them counted against the 90-man roster limit.
In 2018, Efe Obada became the first player from the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster with the Carolina Panthers, but he didn’t initially enter the NFL through the program. He had signed as a free agent with the Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors, then was on the Cowboys practice squad before spending time in the 2016 offseason with the Chiefs and Falcons. In 2017, Obada was part of the first class of players in the International Pathway Program, which gave him additional time to develop with the Panthers.
During the season, teams can carry an International Pathway Program player as an extra 11th member of the practice squad, but because of the roster exemption, the clubs could not promote the player to the active roster during the season. In the case of Johnson, the Patriots elected to forgo that option and make him a regular member of their 10-man practice squad, which gave them the option of promoting him.
“Jak came in with a great attitude this offseason,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said a few weeks ago. “He really put his head down and worked hard through our offseason program, and then continued to do that in OTAs and into training camp — good attitude, he’s been out there every day, toughness, willing to do the things that you need to do to play that position on offense, smart kid, studies hard, prepares well, knows what to do and is ready to go. And he’s competitive, so I think there’s nothing more you can ask of each player than to give your best and be ready to go when your number’s called.”
The Patriots are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback, as Develin has played 41.5 percent of the offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season. Develin also has an important role on the team’s punt coverage unit, which Johnson could also fill.
Browns’ Garrett fined $42K for two Siemian hits
The Browns pass rusher was penalized four times on Monday night, which included two roughing the passer calls. The second resulted in a season-ending ankle injury to Siemian.
“You do not want to put anybody out for the season,” Garrett said earlier this week. “That is their job. That is something that you do not do unless you love it, and you do not want to take that away from anybody. I hope [Siemian] comes back faster and stronger than he ever has. I wish the best for him.”
First of all, I want to wish @TrevorSiemian a speedy recovery. We put our bodies on the line every single snap, and I wouldn’t wish an injury on anyone.
Other than that, great team win but we still have a lot of work to do. So much love to all the fans, onto next week🤟🏾
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) September 17, 2019
Garrett currently leads the NFL with five sacks.
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