SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Heading into his first full offseason as San Francisco’s coach, Kyle Shanahan wants the 49ers to maintain perspective now that expectations are rising dramatically with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
San Francisco will enter 2018 as a favorite to make a big jump, perhaps to playoff contention, with Garoppolo having an entire offseason to master Shanahan’s system while the front office continues to retool the roster.
But Shanahan knows positive attention and high expectations can backfire.
“You find out a lot about people through adversity, but you also do through success,” Shanahan said.
“We’ve had some the last few weeks, got a lot of attention, way too much probably, but we’ve been happy with how we’ve been playing and hopefully can finish this up strong and that’ll leave us excited going into next year.”
The attention the 49ers have received is warranted even though they won’t be going to the playoffs. They became the first team in NFL history to win five games after starting a season 0-9.
Garoppolo, after San Francisco scored 44 points against the playoff-bound Jaguars on Sunday, joined two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger as the only active quarterback to win his first six starts, five of them with the 49ers. Only eight quarterbacks have done that since the merger in 1970.
And now that he’s the center of one of the biggest sports stories in the Bay Area, he’s able to apply what he learned during his time with the Patriots to prevent the attention from affecting his play.
“All four years of my career there’s been big story after big story, just the NFL. I think you just kind of get used to it,” Garoppolo said.
“You don’t listen to the noise. I hear about it from people. It’s cool to hear about, but we have a job on Sunday to do and if you get caught up in all the noise you’ll be distracted and have no chance.”
Against Jacksonville, Garoppolo threw for 242 yards while completing 70 percent of his passes. He accounted for three touchdowns, including the first rushing score of his career. His 98.9 passer rating since joining San Francisco would rank sixth among qualified starting quarterbacks.
“He knows how to win,” center Daniel Kilgore said. “I don’t think all the success is getting to him. I don’t think he’s that guy, which is great to see. He’s a got a tough mindset and he’s a fighter, great competitor. He’s handled it very well.”
The 49ers will have a chance to get their sixth win Sunday against the NFC West champion Rams, who will sit starting quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and star defensive lineman Aaron Donald in preparation for the wild-card round of the playoffs.