Arriving dramatically at last year’s trade deadline into the bleak circumstances of a 1-10 49ers team, expectations on Jimmy Garoppolo were comparatively low. While much was to be eventually expected of him, his short term performance would be graded on a curve.
Of course, the former Patriots backup responded to being thrust into his new team’s starting lineup by going 5-0 at the end of the 2017 season. Garoppolo was largely credited with turning around the franchise.
And as he glances at the impending 2018 season, Garoppolo sees a very different level of expectations. In many ways, the increased pressure has already enveloped him, given the five-year, $137.5 million contract he was handed in a profile-raising offseason.
Tom Brady’s former backup is about to enter a transformative season. Here’s what the San Francisco media is saying about him.
Now the names 49ers fans are loving are Kyle Shanahan and DeForest Buckner and Reuben Foster and George Kittle and…what was that other guy’s name again?…I forget…
Oh, yeah. I remember.
James Garoppolo, the 49ers quarterback of the present and future, is a one-man hope machine.
Don’t forget, this team was 1-10 before Garoppolo took over as the starting quarterback. A quarterback can’t mask all that stink.
Beyond that, no one can be 100 percent sure of what kind of player Garoppolo will be in 2018. I am in the front pew of the tent when it comes to Garoppolo believers, but just as you can’t ignore that end-of-season winning streak, you can’t pretend that Garoppolo didn’t take a lot of risks with his passes last year. Nearly six percent of his throws were interceptable, which put him in the same category as Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (who is objectively terrible).
The 49ers certainly paid Garoppolo a superstar contract, forking over $137.5 million to a player with 12 career touchdown passes and five career interceptions.
Now, they just need him to justify it. And if he does, Jimmy G will become an A-lister. While the Seattle Seahawks defense was known as the “Legion of Boom,” the 49ers offense could soon be the “Legion of Swoon.” His jawline might make it tough to tell if the vendors are hawking game programs or romance novels.
That brings us to Garoppolo. While Hoyer wasn’t a bad signing given the situations the 49ers faced themselves in, there wasn’t anything motivating about it by any stretch of the imagination. Garoppolo’s charisma and play reinvigorated a franchise and raised the players around him to another level. While Beathard may have regressed, Garoppolo has the potential to take the quarterback position to such a high level that the 49ers gained more than lost.
I feel like they’ve been handed one of the biggest gifts of all time with Garoppolo. But I will say this: I had a really interesting talk with someone very high up with New England [who] said, “Let’s wait till Game 6 to 8 this year and let’s see if Jimmy is still kicking butt.”
He thinks that defensive coordinators will have him figured out. He feels like he had a little bit of a grace period last year where the defensive coordinators didn’t have him figured out yet.