SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Big-name quarterbacks often face big-time scrutiny. It doesn't always stem from what happens during games.
Jimmy Garoppolo learned that again recently when his postgame interview with Erin Andrews went viral after the 49ers quarterback told the Fox sideline reporter, "It feels good, baby," regarding the victory that pushed San Francisco's record to 8-0 after beating the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween.
The clip made its rounds because many believed Garoppolo, he of movie-star looks, was being flirtatious. He clarified Thursday that "baby" is in his usual vernacular and he didn't mean to make an inappropriate comment to Andrews, who is married.
"I didn't expect it to blow up like that," Garoppolo said. "It-is-what-it-is type of thing. Yeah, I was excited. 8-0, baby. ... I say baby like 500 times throughout a game just to my teammates and stuff. It wasn't like that."
Garoppolo was Andrews' interview subject because he just had the best game of his brief career as a starter. He tossed four touchdown passes for the first time in the NFL, racked up a season-best 317 yards and had no interceptions for the second time this season. His 136.9 passer rating was the best of his career through 18 starts.
Garoppolo improved to a robust 16-2 as a starter over four seasons. He was already a high-profile quarterback when in 2017 he joined coach Kyle Shanahan's team in San Francisco. But, for the first time this season, he'll be going against quarterbacks that have been to where Garoppolo is trying to go: the Super Bowl.
That starts in a pivotal "Monday Night Football" game against the Seattle Seahawks and MVP candidate Russell Wilson, who is looking to reach the NFL's title game for a third time. Looming on Nov. 24 is a home game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, and a Dec. 8 trip to New Orleans to play Drew Brees and the Saints.
Garoppolo will have a chance to see where he stacks up against some of the league's elite signal callers.
"Russ, he's a phenomenal quarterback, athlete, everything," Garoppolo said Thursday. "He does everything for that team and puts them in a good spot to win every week. It'll be a great challenge, but I've said it before, I'm not playing against the other quarterback. I'm going against the defense, but it'll be a good challenge for our defense."
The Seahawks' defense is a far cry from the "Legion of Boom" that terrorized the 49ers earlier this decade. Cornerback Richard Sherman is with the 49ers now while free safety Earl Thomas signed with the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason and strong safety Kam Chancellor has retired.