SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Acquired on Halloween last season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had little time to immerse himself in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense or develop an on-field rapport with his pass-catchers.
Now in his first offseason as a Niner, Garoppolo is doing his best to make up for lost time.
Citing a history of organizing throwing sessions with teammates that dates to high school, Garoppolo said he and his pass-catchers have been using open fields in the South Bay to get in extra work over the past couple of weeks.
“It’s just something that I like to do," Garoppolo said. "It kind of gets us away from the coaches and everything and allows me to talk to the receivers about specific things, or the tight ends or running backs. We try to get everyone out there that we can. I understand people have things that they have to get to. ... Just to be on the same page with those guys, talking through route concepts and how they see it versus how I see it, it just gets us on the same page.”
NFL rules prohibit players from using the team facility for such side sessions, and Garoppolo said it's important to manage those workouts to prevent overworking his receivers. Still, the sessions are beneficial because he can learn the various idiosyncrasies of his teammates' running routes.
"We find a field that allows us to throw, and we just try to do it whenever," Garoppolo said.
Though the quarterback had limited time to acclimate to Shanahan's scheme and get to know his teammates last season, he didn't let it affect his performance much. After Garoppolo arrived in the Bay Area, he spent a little more than a month learning the offense before starting the season's final five games.
All he did in those contests was lead the Niners to five consecutive victories and rank among the league leaders in almost every major passing category. For most of that time, his understanding of the offense was limited only to the game-plan-specific details Garoppolo was fed each week.
When the team's offseason conditioning program began on April 16, Garoppolo was able to dive back into the playbook, though he couldn't yet take what he was learning to the practice field with the coaching staff at his disposal.
“It’s weird because certain things that I thought during the season are a little different, or there’s more to it than they were telling me at the time, just because we didn’t have the time," Garoppolo said. "You find out the little finer details to each route concept, things like that. It’s been good, though. A lot slower than during the season. That was a bit of a whirlwind.”
Indeed, Garoppolo & Co. now have plenty of time to fine-tune all the things they couldn't get to during the season. Phase 1 of the offseason program was limited to strength and conditioning. Phase 2 began this week and lasts three weeks, allowing for on-field workouts that include individual player instruction and drills, as well as team practices that keep the offense and defense separated. No live contact or offense-versus-defense periods are permitted.
From there, the third and final phase consists of organized team activities, or OTAs. Teams can have 10 OTAs, but again, live contact is prohibited. Teams can conduct 11-on-11 drills as well as 7-on-7 and 9-on-7. The Niners' OTAs are set for May 21, 22, 24, 29 and 30 and June 1, 4, 5 and 7. The team will hold its mandatory minicamp June 12-14.
To build up to that, Garoppolo has been studying his film from last season and pairing up what he sees with the playbook.
“I’d say the biggest difference is the new playbook," Garoppolo said. "Still picking stuff up and critiquing the little things, but having the film from last year and going off of that has really helped a ton."