- Jimmy Garoppolo is 4-0 as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers.
- Garoppolo not only looks like a franchise quarterback, it only cost the team a second-round pick to acquire him from the New England Patriots.
- The Patriots reportedly viewed Garoppolo as a future starter, making the trade that much more difficult to swallow.
The San Francisco 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL, and it’s because of the play of Jimmy Garoppolo.
Since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week 13, Garoppolo has been a revelation. In four games, all wins, he’s thrown for 1,250 yards, completing 68% of his passes, with four touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 96.2 passer rating.
The stats are impressive for a player who had just two starts under his belt when the 49ers acquired him in a trade with the New England Patriots.
The Patriots appear to have done right by Garoppolo. Bill Belichick reportedly refused to trade Garoppolo to the Cleveland Browns because he didn’t think Garoppolo could flourish there. Instead, he sent him to the similarly quarterback-needy 49ers to work with Kyle Shanahan, who previously turned Matt Ryan into an MVP with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Patriots are also paying the price for dealing Garoppolo. The Patriots reportedly saw Garoppolo as a future franchise quarterback, but Tom Brady’s insane longevity held up turning the team over to him. With an awkward timeline to juggle – and very little leverage, with Garoppolo hitting free agency in 2018 – the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick.
The Patriots have had success with second-round picks, but Garoppolo and the 49ers’ winning ways keep diminishing the value of the pick. The 49ers were winless when they acquired Garoppolo, but they’ve now won five of their last six games, turning the second-round pick that goes to the Patriots into the 39th overall pick. Another win in Week 17 could push the pick down further.
There’s also the question of how much sand is left in Brady’s hourglass. Brady hasn’t shown any significant signs of slowing down, but at 40, he only has so many years left. The Patriots will certainly carefully look into future replacements, with the hope that that replacement can learn under Brady for several years, but it undoubtedly hurts to see their first planned replacement quarterback excelling elsewhere.
Of course, four games is a small sample size, and the 49ers aren’t playing for much. Defenses will adjust to Garoppolo, but thus far, he’s shown qualities of being a franchise quarterback. In Week 16, Garoppolo helped the 49ers shred the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL’s best defense, 44-33. The Jaguars had not conceded more than 30 points in a season, yet it was Garoppolo, who threw two touchdowns and dove for one himself, who exposed them.
He’s Brady-esque in the pocket but his mobility gives him more of a playground style than his former mentor.
And as SB Nation’s Geoff Schwartz noted, Garoppolo already excels at looking off the defense and then throwing the other way.
Garoppolo will be expensive for the 49ers this offseason. They’ll have the option to give him the franchise tag, but his strong play over the last four weeks only gives him more leverage in contract negotiations.
However, with an offseason to further learn the offense, plus more help on both sides of the ball, there’s reason to believe Garoppolo can improve. To land a franchise quarterback with a second-round pick has been worth it for the 49ers, and perhaps a tough pill for the Patriots to swallow.