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Hall of Fame QB knows too well you might never make it back
MIAMI — Dan Marino has one bit of advice for Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo, opposing quarterbacks in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday.
“Enjoy it, but don’t take it for granted – and make sure you take care of business,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said in a phone interview Tuesday morning from Toronto, where he was doing promotional interviews for DAZN, the exclusive Canadian provider of live-streamed NFL games.
“You don’t want to take it for granted because you don’t know if you’ll get an opportunity again. That happened to me. I played 17 years in the NFL and played in a Super Bowl my second year.”
But that was it.
In 15 more seasons with the one NFL team Marino played on from 1983-99, the Miami Dolphins, Marino never reached another Super Bowl, after losing to the San Francisco 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX following the 1984 season.
“We got close again a few times, in AFC championship games, but never got into the big game again,” the 58-year-old said.
Marino finished his playing career as the most prolific passer in NFL history. He held records for yards, completions and touchdowns passes before being surpassed this century by the likes of Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Mahomes, like Marino, burst into stardom in his first season of starting in 2018 and, like Marino again, has piloted his team to the Super Bowl the next season.
The difference is Marino did it right out of the gate, in his first two years as a pro, whereas Mahomes understudied in his rookie season behind Alex Smith before taking the NFL by storm.
“Yes, it does sound familiar,” Marino said. “It’s the same as far as when he started playing, for sure. He’s a very dynamic young man, who can make all the throws. He has all the intangibles too. From what I understand from people who work with him, even in Kansas City, he’s a kid that loves football, is the first one there in the morning, the last one to leave, watches a lot of extra film – all the things that you love to see in a quarterback.”
Meantime, Niners quarterback Garoppolo just completed his first full season of starting in the NFL. He saw only scant garbage-time duty as Tom Brady’s backup in New England from 2014-15, before impressively leading the Patriots to a 2-0 start in 2016 while Brady served his four-game Deflategate suspension; Garoppolo was hurt and missed Games 3-4. In October 2017 the Pats traded Garoppolo to San Francsico, and he started and won the last five games of that season.
The Niners rewarded him a couple months later with a $138-million contract. He started the first three games in 2018 before blowing out his left knee. The 28-year-old returned this season and has started the whole way.
Garoppolo is 19-5 as an NFL starter, and 2-0 in the playoffs.
What does Marino see in Garoppolo?
“I see a really solid player, a guy that you can tell is capable of throwing the ball to win games, without a doubt. He did it before this year, when they were struggling some to run the ball. He’s more than capable of (passing a team to victory). The 49ers just play to their strengths, which is playing defence and running the football. But he can do it.
“But right now, all he has to do is kind of manage the game, and until that changes why not play that way? Just run the football and keep Mahomes off the field. If Mahomes doesn’t have the ball he can’t score. That’s what they were doing even before the playoffs, so that’s probably what they’re going to do.”
Marino said it should be interesting to see how the Niners choose to corral Mahomes and his lightning-fast receivers. Especially when the 49ers have, as defensive big men up front go, lightning-fast pass rushers.
“Yeah, any time you get four legitimate guys who can get to the quarterback without help, that’s ideal,” Marino said. “DeForest Buckner and Nick Bosa are special players. The 49ers have proven they can get to the quarterback with four guys, which not a lot of teams can do. Getting that pressure, disruption in the pocket allows them to drop extra people into coverage.
“That’s going to be interesting when you watch the game and see what direction their defensive philosophy goes, and see how Mahomes handles it.”
Rushing only four would allow the Niners to drop the remaining seven defenders into pass coverage. That’s got to be their ideal defensive situation, right?
“Well, that would be my game plan, to see if I could get pressure with the guys up front, pass-cover in zone to keep everything in front of you, and then see how it goes,” Marino said. “Just try to keep the ball away from their big playmakers. That’s what I see the Niners trying to do.”
Mild heat won’t affect play in Super Bowl LIV
MIAMI — The forecast for Super Sunday calls for a high temperature of 22 C. And it’ll be cooler than that by kickoff, after sundown.
A guy who played quarterback here for 17 years doesn’t expect the weather to play a factor, even in early February between a Midwestern team that experiences winter’s full brunt in America, Kansas City.
“It shouldn’t be that hot to affect either team, either way,” Dan Marino said Tuesday in a phone interview. “I think 70s is pretty nice weather. That’s easy to play in. It’s only when it gets into the 90s, and into the 100s on the field, like in September, where it becomes a factor. I don’t see it as a factor in this game.”
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