Special teams contributor or starting running back. The label doesn’t matter to Raheem Mostert.
That’s the mentality of the players who make up this unselfish San Francisco 49ers squad, one that has a legitimate shot at winning a championship and will put its talent to the test on Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. The victor will advance to the NFC Championship Game and be just a step away from the Super Bowl.
Four passing touchdowns or none. One hundred fifty-one passing yards or 424. A passer rating of 145.8 or 59.8. As is the case with many of his teammates, none of that matters to Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers quarterback has won games this season in each situation.
The statistics don’t matter.
Statistics are typically the first thing you look at while determining how effective a player is. These days, you have advanced statistics to complement the more traditional ones you might find on NFL.com or ESPN. For example, Garoppolo was 36-of-39 for 429 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 129.6 on drives following an interception.
You have Pro Football Focus analytics. You have Next Gen Stats. Fans have so much more information available to them, and still, there is just one statistic that remains the most important.
Wins. And Garoppolo has plenty of them.
A reporter on Tuesday asked Garoppolo about his self-analysis. Which statistical benchmarks are important to him when determining whether or not he is playing well.
“Honestly, I don’t really look at the stats that much,” Garoppolo responded. I know it sounds cliché and everything. As long as the quarterback is winning, I think he’s doing his job and putting his team in a good position to win. As the quarterback, that’s your job.”
After each game, head coach Kyle Shanahan is always asked to assess his quarterback’s play. He doesn’t respond with statistics and instead tries to explain what he saw from Garoppolo in the game. After all, whatever his quarterback is doing helped the team earn the best record in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“I’d probably embarrass myself if I sat up here and talked too much stats because I guarantee you guys know them better than me,” Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday. “I just watch every play. I kind of just have a pretty good feel on whether he’s playing good or not.”
There is one area of Garoppolo’s game where Shanahan feels his quarterback excels. That’s on third downs.
“I think one of the biggest things in all of football is third down,” Shanahan continued. “There’s not much you can do on third down. There is stuff you can do scheming and everything, but not if you don’t have a really good quarterback. I think that’s always a pretty apparent stat to me.”
The 49ers and Vikings kick off from Levi’s Stadium on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. PT. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders isn’t concerned about the playoff game being too big for Garoppolo.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the 49ers quarterback already owns two Super Bowl rings because he earned them as Tom Brady’s backup. That also means Garoppolo was already exposed to a championship mentality.
“He knows what it takes to go all the way and win it all,” Sanders said. “He’s seen the preparation from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, so at the end of the day, he understands the process.”