by Jordy McElroy
Jimmy Garoppolo could have followed in the footsteps of Tom Brady if he opted to stay with the New England Patriots. That towering shadow as the successor of the greatest quarterback of all time would have blotted out the warm rays of sunshine in San Francisco. Beaches, money, palm trees and a Super Bowl-contending team with electrifying talent on both sides of the ball—Garoppolo is where he always belonged.
That isn’t to suggest the Patriots made the wrong choice in sending him to the west coast. The team certainly would have loved to have acquired more than a second-round draft pick for him, but their decision to move on and stick with Brady ultimately paid off with the team winning a sixth Super Bowl.
It also relieved Garoppolo’s shoulders of the enormous pressure that would have befallen him to take up the mantle in New England. The weight of the greatest dynasty in NFL history might have crushed him.
Jimmy G could have turned into Jimmy Gone after a few seasons.
The 49ers have gone above and beyond to surround him with the right skilled position players to cultivate his talent. They have also put together a monstrous defense capable of carrying the load for the team. It’s a great situation when the quarterback only completes six passes for 77 yards and still wins the NFC Championship by 17 points.
Throw in the fact that Garoppolo is making $27.5 million annually on a five-year deal, and the 49ers quarterback job has been a dream of a lifetime.
Garoppolo likely would have never been inked to that lucrative of a contract if he stayed with the Patriots. We are talking about the same organization that was paying Brady less money than Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff.
Even a broken down Ben Roethlisberger was making significantly more money than Brady.
Imagine Garoppolo stepping in behind center to take the reins of an offense with slot receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White as his only reliable receivers. Brady’s willingness to take less money didn’t yield the results he hoped in 2019. The Patriots receiving corps was a barren wasteland, and the team even got desperate enough to go the route of signing a 38-year-old Benjamin Watson to fill the void left behind by retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
If taking less money didn’t help Brady, taking more would have led to Garoppolo throwing to nothing but guys on rookie contracts, veteran minimums or average Joes off the street. Garoppolo is a good player, but he isn’t a miracle-worker.
He hasn’t proven he’s capable of turning lemons into lemonade with the deck stacked against him. However, he has shown to be the perfect plug-and-play piece in the genius offensive system coach Kyle Shanahan has implemented in San Francisco. The 49ers aren’t calling on him to put the team on his back like Brady did for the Patriots for so many years.
They simply needed an efficient quarterback to play within the flow of the offense and manage Shanahan’s play-calling. It’s a perfect trade-off for warm weather, more money and the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl contender.
Granted, Garoppolo had no idea the chance to headline a Super Bowl would come so quickly. It was only three years ago that he was standing on the sidelines watching Brady engineer the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history against the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons at the time, stood on the other sideline watching the Patriots hoist the Lombardi Trophy and celebrate in the raining confetti.
Who would have ever guessed the side attractions would join forces as headliners for their own quest to Super Bowl glory?