Garcia Finally Praised
November 5 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Jeff Garcia has traveled through some tough times in the NFL. He’s thrown for more yards than any 49ers quarterback in history. He’s thrown for over 60 touchdown passes in the past two seasons, and he took the 49ers to the playoffs - and still the criticism rolled in. Nothing Jeff could do was good enough for fans who had pledged their allegiance to Steve and Joe. On Sunday, Jeff may have begun to win over the hearts of 49ers fans.
Garcia will still be criticized, all great players are. But in beating the Raiders on Sunday, Garcia single handedly took it upon himself to be the difference in the game. He was accurate, completing 25 of 36 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback rating was over 111. After half time, Garcia threw just two incomplete passes in 19 attempts. It was a mind bending performance.
“I don’t know how many times he got it done on third-down. He was just awesome out there today. He was screaming at us to ‘get it done’ and ‘let’s score and get out of here.’ Then he follows that up with those plays. I just have so much respect for that guy and how he plays the game.” Said Jeremy Newberry, the 49ers starting center.
Newberry wasn’t alone in his comments: “Just a championship performance: the scrambles, the improvisation in the pocket and the toughness he showed was just incredible,” added Donahue. “He just keeps going, just keeps competing. He often doesn’t get his just due, by the truly is in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks. He’s among the elite. There just isn't anyone better converting third-down plays. Sometimes, maybe he only gets it by inches, whether he's giving the ball to someone else or makes the play himself, but he usually gets it. He definitely has a nose for the first-down marker in those situations, and it's a big reason for our success so far."
Even the Raiders were miffed by Garcia’s performance: ``He single-handedly won that game,'' Callahan - the Raiders coach said. ``He has an uncanny sense of escaping the pocket, and he puts an indecisiveness in your coverage.''
This was a proud game for Jeff, who may not have won over the entire 49ers fan base, but certainly left a mark on their impression of him. He threw darts down field to Owens, and bullets into the end zone. Garcia was simply on fire, but it will take many more games like this one, before doubters begin to realize how truly great this quarterback is.
After the game, and after Garcia was calmed down (he left the field yelling back at Raiders fans who taunted him all game), he had the following to say: "I really think I went out and played the way I envisioned myself playing I played 'Jeff Garcia football.' I am more into the game when I'm running around, making things happen. That's when I'm in a zone." Garcia went on to explain that it was one of his best and most complete performances of his career.
Jeff Garcia still has a ways to go before he’ll win over the doubters, but with his gut wrenching victory over the Raiders, Garcia was at his best, and in so doing - took one step closer to being regarded as an elite quarterback in NFL history.