While the Patriots’ quarterback situation is uncertain going forward, the San Francisco 49ers appear to have found their long-term answer in Jimmy Garoppolo.
The former Patriots QB has taken the 49ers back to the Super Bowl, which has left many fans wondering if trading him in 2017 was the correct decision.
Garoppolo showed flashes of potential with the Patriots from 2014-2017, in an eventful stretch that featured a hot start, an untimely injury, and two Super Bowl rings.
Here’s a look at some key moments from his time in New England.
The Patriots drafted him in the second round in 2014.
New England took Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick, making him the team’s highest-drafted quarterback since Drew Bledsoe went first overall in 1993.
Even though he visited with the Patriots before the draft, Garoppolo said he was still shocked to get the call. He noted at the time that he had a lot to learn and was excited to get started.
“I feel good about it,” Garoppolo said of possibly backing up Tom Brady. “Whether I’m coming in as a starter or a backup, my mindset is the same … I’m going to try and get better each and every day. That’s what good football players do.”
Belichick said at the time that Garoppolo had many qualities the Patriots admired in a quarterback. He then acknowledged the Patriots could potentially need some help at the position down the road.
“The situation we have at quarterback, we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future,” Belichick said, according to Patriots.com. “We’ll see how all that works out. I think we’re better off being early rather than late with that position.”
Garoppolo then passed Ryan Mallett on the depth chart over the summer, and the team traded Mallett to the Houston Texans in late August.
His first completion went to Julian Edelman and first touchdown to Rob Gronkowski.
With the outcome already decided in the Patriots’ 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 29, 2014, Garoppolo entered and dazzled in his debut.
He finished 6 of 7 for 70 yards, threw a touchdown pass and no interceptions, and his passer rating was a whopping 147.9.
The rookie Garoppolo completed his first career pass to Julian Edelman for a 5-yard gain. He then threw an incompletion before hitting Brandon LaFell for a 37-yard gain and finding Rob Gronkowski in the end zone for a 13-yard score and Garoppolo’s first-ever TD.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 12, 2016
On the next drive, he found James White for 18, 11, and 3 yards before the team eventually had to punt.
A reporter asked Belichick postgame if the quarterback position would be evaluated. According to Boston Globe reporter Shalise Manza Young, the question “elicited an incredulous smirk and slight shake of the head.”
Garoppolo played six games in his rookie season, completing 19 of 27 passes for 182 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and no interceptions and took five sacks.
His sizzling stretch as a starter was cut short.
When the NFL suspended Brady four games following the Deflategate saga, Garoppolo took over as the starter.
He impressed in a season-opening, 23-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals, finishing 24 for 33 for 264 yards and a touchdown, matching Carson Palmer’s production.
The next game, against the Miami Dolphins, he started the day 18 for 26 for 232 yards and three touchdowns before leaving due to a right shoulder injury. When Kiko Alonso slammed Garoppolo to the ground late in the second quarter, the Patriots had to turn to third-stringer Jacoby Brissett.
“(As) Garoppolo winced and went down to one knee even as fans implored him to get up by cheering his name, the countdown to Brady’s return began anew,” NFL.com’s Judy Battista wrote at the time.
The Patriots had to quickly regroup and work with what they had once again.
“Any time you see your quarterback hurt, your heart drops for a second,” receiver Chris Hogan said afterward. “Obviously, I hope it’s nothing serious and he can make a speedy recovery. That’s tough. At the end of the day, you have to move on.”
He won two Super Bowl rings.
While Garoppolo never attempted a pass in the playoffs during his time with the Patriots, he was able to earn two Super Bowl rings.
He was on the sideline when the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, in 2015, and the Falcons, 34-28, in 2017. When Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers in October of 2017, the Patriots went on to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl a few months later.
Garoppolo joked in an interview with NFL Total Access that he was “working hard for those playoff checks.”
When he was eventually traded, the verdict was mixed.
Just like his time with the Patriots is part of the narrative, so too is his departure.
Major QB shakeup: 49ers trading 2018 2nd-round draft pick to New England for Patriots’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo, sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
After much ado about whether or not he would stay with the team long term, the Patriots in October of 2017 traded Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick.
The Patriots eventually traded that pick to get more picks, and now there’s a chance they’ll lose Brady. Garoppolo, of course, has become a franchise quarterback and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.