San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne believes he’s been a Jimmy Garoppolo fan longer than you. Why? He’s been aware of his quarterback’s abilities since he was at Eastern Illinois University. Bourne attended Eastern Washington University which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with EIU.
In 2013, Bourne’s sophomore year, EWU quarterback Vernon Adams was in competition with Jimmy Garoppolo for the Walter Payton award, which is the FCS equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. Adams finished second in votes and was runner up to Garoppolo. The two teams almost met that year in the FCS playoffs, but Towson beat EIU in the quarterfinals advancing to play EWU in the semifinals.
Bourne and the entire Eagles football team knew all about Garoppolo, so when he heard that the EIU QB was headed to Santa Clara, he knew how lucky the team was to get him. Bourne is thankful for Garoppolo, not only for what he brings to the 49ers, but how he opened the door for fellow FCS players headed to the NFL and the draft.
Bourne says it’s no slight to C.J. Beathard but Garoppolo’s aura was felt immediately upon his arrival at the facility. While they couldn’t judge him because he hadn’t yet played a snap, his serious/business attitude was unmistakable. Bourne added, “In the weight room I could just tell how serious he was about everything. He was trying to get out there, one way or another.” There was an unmistakable leadership quality that stood out from the quarterback.
Bourne reports that Garoppolo continued to impress his new teammates in practice, making great throws. They all knew it was, “only a matter of time before he got the playbook down” and was doing the same in games.
“Experience goes a long way in this league and we could just tell he had that leadership mentality. I feel like he’s Tom Brady Jr.”
But Bourne says not to worry, Garoppolo has a great personality, constantly smiling and laughing. He says what we all don’t see is the joker he is behind the scenes when the cameras are off. Once it’s game time, however, the quarterback locks in and gets down to business.
“He knows how to control the game and is always the same: never too high, never too low, which is what [Kyle] Shanahan wants from all us. He has all the attributes to be one of the best ever. It’s very exciting. I’m very lucky to be a receiver for him.”