When the San Francisco 49ers acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots for a second-round pick in 2017, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch felt food about having their long-term solution at the most important position on the field.
When Garoppolo was ready to become the starter, he didn’t disappoint, leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record over their final five games of the 2017 season.
With a full offseason of getting accustomed to Shanahan’s playbook, everyone was excited to see how Jimmy G would perform the following year.
Unfortunately, that was short lived.
Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL Season, meaning Shanahan and Lynch had to wait to see if their investment in the quarterback would pay off.
The 28-year-old Garoppolo bounced back in 2019, completing 69.1% of his passing attempts for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, leading San Francisco to a 13-3 record and the NFC title.
After falling short in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs, Garoppolo’s neigh-sayers pointed out to his forth quarter performance, when he went 3-for-11 for 36 yards and interception, finishing 2.8 rating over the final 15 minutes.
Shanahan was a guest on The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami’s podcast and discussed Garoppolo’s development.
“Jimmy had a real good year last year, I expect him to continue to get better. I don’t think he’s achieved his ceiling yet. Shanahan told Kawakami. “Last year was his first year ever going through a full season as a quarterback. He hadn’t played longer than five games, I think, in a year prior to that.”
Garoppolo is 19-5 since taking over the starting job with the Niners, but that didn’t stop Shanahan and Lynch from at least exploring the possibility of signing six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady as a free agent.
“All of a sudden, you hear arguably the greatest quarterback of all time is all of a sudden available, and there is a possibility that he could want to come to your team, and things like that,” Shanahan said. “When you hear that stuff, and it actually is realistic, for you not to look into it, to me, would be completely irresponsible.”
No one can deny Brady’s accomplishments, but going with a quarterback who is almost 43 years old and coming off an ugly regular season didn’t make a ton of sense. Especially when your guy is nearly 14 years younger and going into his second full year as a starter.
“We were so happy with our team and happy with Jimmy,” Shanahan said. “And yeah, it didn’t end the way we wanted it. We can all do better, Jimmy, and I expect it.”
I was tired of hearing the Brady-to-San Francisco rumors when they were happening, so I am glad to hear Shanahan and Lynch shut the door on it real quick.
Garoppolo has to sharpen up his decision-making, especially when throwing into tight windows, which has been a knock since he first joined the team.
Still, there was plenty to like from his first full season as a starter. He finished forth in the NFL in yards per attempt and helped the Niners come within a win of winning it all, just two years after being a 6-10 team.
What do you think Garoppolo has to improve on most if for the 49ers are going to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next season?