SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Things have been so grim for San Francisco in recent years that a successful start of the franchise quarterback of the future was enough to make the 49ers big dreamers.
Jimmy Garoppolo is already being compared to greats like Joe Montana by fans and radio shows after winning his first opening for San Francisco, compliments that he quickly tried to downplay.
"I try not to listen to any of the external things … The comparison of Joe Montana, I think it's a bit early for them, it's just been a game," Garoppolo said Wednesday before agreeing to a similarity with the Hall of Fame that won four Super Bowl titles for the 49ers.
"We are both Italians, so we have that in common, but I think it could be a bit early."
Niners enthusiasts can be forgiven a little for the high level of emotion due to how terrible the team has been in recent years. After three consecutive trips to the game for the NFC title and an appearance in the Super Bowl with Jim Harbaugh from 2011-13, the franchise has been in free fall.
Harbaugh was fired after an eight-victory season in 2014 and then Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly had a one-year contract and a combined record of 7-25 when the team received a poor quarterback game from Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert.
The hiring of offensive genius Kyle Shanahan brought some optimism this season, but there was little tangible evidence of improvement on the field with Brian Hoyer and CJ Beathard as quarterback, leading the team to change a second-inning choice Round 2018 for Garoppolo on October 31.
Garoppolo looked strong by leading the Niners (2-10) to a 15-14 victory at Chicago last Sunday, only increasing the exaggeration.
"Going up there in that situation and doing some of the plays he did, when he's in that situation, definitely excites everyone," Shanahan said.
"I think everyone knows the potential and the possibilities, it's not that you have to temper, you just have to be realistic, it was a game, it did some really good things in that game and there are a lot of things that we can improve on of that game. "
Garoppolo scored 26 for 37 attempts for 293 yards on his third start, with his only interception at stake. a pass that was attacked by Louis Murphy but was knocked down by safety Kyle Fuller.
Garoppolo also took only two sacks and managed the game well despite continuing to learn a new offense. The only thing that caught his attention was the impossibility of entering the end zone when San Francisco settled for five field goals.
All those kicks came in series that the 49ers converted into the red zone, but they failed to score.  "We knew that this was one of the most difficult areas of the field," said Garoppolo. "That and the third down will always take some time, but there are some good things to learn from."
Now that Garoppolo played a complete game, putting together a game plan is an easier process for Shanahan, who has a better idea of what plays work well with your new quarterback and what it costs him to do.
Garoppolo will feel comfortable running even more plays this week and the game plan may be even more suited to his strengths.
"You can talk a lot about that, but you really do not know until you get into a game," Shanahan said. "He does not know the process of how we do it." He knows one thing and we are waiting to see how everything is going. I thought it was a good start. Here it is more comfortable to talk to him on Mondays and Tuesdays, the expectations of the game. I think it will help him practice better this week, having a little more idea of what was normally unknown before Sunday. "
NOTES: T Trent Brown (shoulder), DE Elvis Dumervil (rest) and T Joe Staley (rest) all did not practice … S Adrian Colbert (thumb) was limited.
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