We’ve heard plenty dating back to last October about how the San Francisco 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo, and the past two months have told us plenty about the decision to sign him to a long-term contract extension. We heard about how Kirk Cousins was Kyle Shanahan’s first choice initially, and how there was a bit of a “mourning period” when the Cousins dream ended.
The “mourning period” comment was overblown to a certain extent, with clarification since then. That being said, Jimmy Garoppolo did have to prove himself to Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers. And prove himself he did. Garoppolo blew through the final five games, winning all of them, and looking impressive in doing so.
But when exactly did Kyle Shanahan and company realize they were ready to back up the Brink’s truck and pay Garoppolo franchise quarterback money? Well, it turns out it came with his third win in a row for the team.
Shanahan chatted with Adam Schefter during the NFL owners’ meeting last week, and they got into the Cousins chatter and how Jimmy Garoppolo performed. Schefter asked him when he realized that Garoppolo was the guy and they could skip everything else.
“It took about three weeks, to be honest with you. Well, in terms of, he had to go out there and play.
“I thought were in a good situation after our first year in terms of, record-wise we weren’t in a good situation, but I thought we were in a good situation to find a very good quarterback. Jimmy kind of fell into our laps for a second round pick, and I knew how talented he was from college — spent a lot of time on him. We loved his two games we evaluated, so once we knew we could get him for a second round pick, that’s something that we would not have hesitated on. But then when we had him, the reason it took a few weeks was, we weren’t gonna lock our self into an unknown.
“We knew a guy possibly, like Kirk Cousins was going to become available, most likely in free agency. We also didn’t have one win, so we thought we might have the first pick in the draft, and a bunch of good quarterbacks are coming out. So we knew we were in a good situation, so we weren’t just going to jump in and, ‘hey we got Jimmy, he’s played in two games, let’s sign him longterm, and bypass maybe the first pick in the draft, or someone like Kirk in free agency.’
“So we just played it out, and see what would happen. And Jimmy went out there and played very well in the first game. I was extremely excited. The second game I was even more excited. By the third game, I think we all kinda forgot about free agency and about the draft, and we were like, ‘alright, we can isolate on one guy right now,’ and we were very happy that it happened.”
Following his 2-for-2 performance against the Seattle Seahawks, he came out against his hometown Chicago Bears, and completed 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards in a 15-14 road win. He followed that up with a 20 of 33 performance for 334 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 26-16 road win over the Houston Texans. In his third game, he completed 31 of 43 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown in a 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans.
It would appear the 49ers decided he was their guy in the Titans game, but his performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars might have made it much easier to pay the franchise QB dollars. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 44-33 win. He closed out the season completing 20 of 33 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 34-13 win over the veteran-resting Los Angeles Rams.
Garoppolo has plenty to work on this offseason, and a full offseason learning the intricacies of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook will only help matters. It remains to be seen what his ceiling is, but so far so good for the 49ers and their franchise quarterback.