NFL

Garoppolo using Super Bowl LIV heartache as motivation ahead of NFC Championship Game

By Sports Desk January 30, 2022

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has plenty to prove after a largely unconvincing postseason, and he will certainly not be short of motivation ahead of the NFC Championship Game with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Niners are on the brink of a second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons but are underdogs against the Rams despite winning the last six meetings between the two teams.

San Francisco's status as underdogs is in part tied to the quarterback matchup, which most see as stacked in favour of the Rams and Matthew Stafford rather than the Niners and Garoppolo.

With the 49ers' defense and running game excelling, the onus has largely been taken off Garoppolo during the playoffs, in which he has completed 61.4 per cent of his passes for 303 yards and two interceptions, a tally that could have been significantly higher as he made several dangerous throws during last week's 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers at a snowy Lambeau Field.

In two wins over the Rams this season, however, Garoppolo has completed 74.5 per cent of his passes for 498 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He has a passer rating of 108.1 across those games.

Garoppolo helped the 49ers come back from 17-0 down in Week 18 to beat the Rams and punch their ticket to the postseason, leading a game-tying drive in the final 90 seconds of regulation with no timeouts to send a thrilling contest to overtime.

The 49ers could face the Kansas City Chiefs again in the Super Bowl having lost to the same opposition on the biggest stage two years ago, when they led 20-10 with seven minutes remaining.

Garoppolo missed a potential game-winning throw to Emmanuel Sanders in Super Bowl LIV, and the prospect of atoning for that defeat is fuelling the Niners' quarterback.

"Since it's happened, it's been a motivator for me," Garoppolo told a media conference of the Chiefs loss. 

"Honestly, it's a feeling that can't be described. It's unlike any other loss I've ever had. And since that moment it's motivated me and it always will going forward.

"But those are the lessons, sports are never going to be perfect. And if you can take those lessons and be better from it, you'll be better off in the long run."

The history books are in favour of the Niners as they prepare to face the Rams for the third time this season.

Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, there have been 22 playoff rematches between teams where one team won both regular-season contests. The sweeping team has won 14 of those games.

Garoppolo, though, does not make much of what is a new experience for the signal-caller.

"This will be my first time. I've never actually done it," said Garoppolo of playing the Rams for the third time. 

"So, it'll be a little different, but these guys know us, we know them. There's really no secrets or anything like that. So it's about going out there, beating your man and executing. Other than that, it's just football."

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