A chance for Jimmy G, the other quarterback in this Super Bowl

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

MIAMI — Jimmy G made the ultimate observation: “We know why we’re here.” He and everyone else.

The 49ers are here for Super Bowl LIV. Here to preserve a legacy. Here to create a reputation, perhaps, for Jimmy Garoppolo, Jimmy G.

So much hype. So much speculation. “All we are is entertainment,” the late NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle insisted, when years ago some complained that the game had become too large, too important, too commercial.

And we love our entertainment. Always have loved it. Bread and circuses for the Romans. Doritos and inside handoffs for the Americans.

Would you rather have another sham of a Senate hearing or the hard truth of trying to stop Patrick Mahomes?

He’s the main man of Sunday’s game between the Niners and Kansas City Chiefs. Until proven differently. He’s the quarterback the Niners could have had, the quarterback the Chiefs do have.

Defense wins, we’re told, but the Super Bowl through much of its half-century has belonged to quarterbacks, to Bart Starr, then Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, John Elway and most recently Tom Brady.

The first AFC win, in Super Bowl III, was in effect Joe Namath’s win — the prediction, the performance, the signaling as he left the field.

The assumption is because Mahomes is able to escape tackles and can throw touchdowns in bunches, this will be his game, the Chiefs' game. But the New York Times — yes, it covers sports other than curling or soccer — predicts a Niners win, 30-27. I think it will be 27-24.

There is some irony in this game. Lamar Hunt, the first owner of the Chiefs (they originally were the Dallas Texans, but couldn’t compete with the Cowboys and shifted to KC) was responsible for the label “Super Bowl.”

One day back in the mid-1960s, Hunt’s son was playing with a high-bouncing toy called “Super Ball.” That led Hunt to suggest Super Bowl. Pretty good idea.

Not very good football over the years by the Chiefs, however. They won Super Bowl IV in January 1970 — and haven’t been in a Super Bowl since. Until today, an untidy 50 years.

Still they were ahead of the Niners, who failed everywhere, the old American Football Conference (where the Browns beat everyone), the NFL playoffs, blowing leads against Detroit in 1957, against the Cowboys in 1972. Good grief, Preston Riley.

From the time the franchise began in 1946 until January 1982 (in the playoffs following the ’81 season), 35 years, the 49ers never won any sort of championship. Then Dwight Clark made “The Catch,” and the football world changed, for the better if you thought that way.

So many years ago, so many games ago. The Niners were the “Team of the ‘80s.” Does that mean anything in 2020? There’s always an old guy starting to slip, always a new kid ready to take over.

Garoppolo, Jimmy G, was a linebacker who became a quarterback as a junior in high school. At Eastern Illinois University, he broke the school passing records of Tony Romo. Who would have guessed that Garoppolo would make it to a Super Bowl and Romo would not?

But what happens now? Does Jimmy outplay Patrick Mahomes? Will he even need to? In the last two postseason games, the Niners ran and ran. How does that affect a quarterback’s reputation when all he does is give the ball to someone else? Not that he didn’t block on one of those running plays.

The Chiefs need Mahomes to be brilliant, and the probability is he will be. The 49ers only need Garoppolo to be himself, another part in a machine that keeps grinding.

And keeps winning.

“We weren't just running it to punt to try to win 3-0,“ Kyle Shanahan, the Niners’ coach, said in defense of his offense — and his QB.

"You can't run the ball if you don't do good on third down. Jimmy has been as good as anyone on third down this year. When we needed him to bring us back at the end of games, he's done it."

Whether he can do it, if needed, will be the test and the question for Jimmy G, the other quarterback in Patrick Mahomes' Super Bowl.