Bill Belichick is one of the greatest football coaches of all time, winning five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. Before that, he was fired by the Cleveland Browns. How could such a great coach be let go by any team? The answer is simple: he found a game changing quarterback in Tom Brady. Every all-time great head coach has had an amazing quarterback that could run his system. Bill Walsh had Joe Montana, Chuck Noll had Terry Bradshaw, and Mike Shanahan had John Elway.
Learning from his father, Kyle Shanahan has been on the hunt for a legendary quarterback. Journeyman Brian Hoyer was viewed as a stopgap until Shanahan could obtain the long-term answer. Rumors swirled around Kirk Cousins, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen. After a midseason trade involving the Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, Shanahan has acquired the perfect quarterback to run his system in Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is destined for greatness.
Jimmy Garoppolo is the Chosen One
He Learned from the Masters
Since the two have been paired, all Belichick and Brady have done is win. Together, they have won five Super Bowls. Serving as Brady’s backup, Garoppolo was on two of those championship teams. However, in his three and a half years in New England, Garoppolo has picked up more than just two Super Bowl rings. He has absorbed the winning ways and habits of the future Hall of Fame pair.
One of the key characteristics of Brady is his extreme work ethic. This work ethic has rubbed off onto Garoppolo. Shanahan runs a very complex offense, which takes a full year to get a good grasp on. Without the luxury of a full year, or even an off-season, Garoppolo was firmly behind the eight ball.
Instead of getting caught up in the many distractions that a mid-season trade can pose, Garoppolo spent his time studying the playbook, and working diligently towards learning the offense. In his wins, he has been fully tuned into the offense. For example, one play, Carlos Hyde motioned the wrong way, and Garoppolo quickly alerted him to his mistake.
Another trait he has learned from Brady is the fact that being a quarterback is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. No other position in sports is as scrutinized as the quarterback. While a quarterback must perform on the field, staying buttoned up off the field is important. Garoppolo has fully committed to the bit, dressing in stylish suits for each press conference. His post-game quotes are riddled with clichés, much like his teachers before him.
Raw and Untamed Power
Garoppolo possess many tools that Shanahan would like to take advantage of. His quick decision making and rapid release are traits that any coach would covet. So far, Garoppolo has used those traits, coupled with the well-designed offensive scheme, to achieve great success. In his two starts, he has won both while throwing for just about 300 yards.
Garoppolo has yet to reach his full potential. Perhaps one of his greatest strengths is also one of his greatest weakness. His quick snap throws are not conducive for throwing the ball deep, and he has missed on several poorly thrown deep balls.
Consider a catcher in baseball. The catcher may be able to throw out would-be base stealers using a quick snap throws to second base. However, that same player, now put into the outfield, would struggle to make a long and accurate throw to home plate.
That is not to say that Garoppolo cannot learn to make this throw. He is a hard worker, and has plenty of arm strength. It will take an off-season of training and chemistry with his wide receivers, particularly Marquise Goodwin, before he is able to connect on the long shot plays that Shanahan likes to dial up. Once this weakness is addressed, Garoppolo will be a true weapon.
He is a Special Player
One could watch every Garoppolo throw he has ever made in an NFL game in a short period of time on YouTube. There hasn’t been a great sample size. One thing he has shown in his short time is an ability to make plays, and beyond that, something truly special.
A great example of his play making ability was on a play against the Houston Texans. After motioning the running back out wide, Garoppolo recognized that he was facing a man defense with a single high safety. The ball is snapped, and his initial read left is covered. Working through his progressions, he connects with Goodwin for a 20 yard completion on a slant route.
This entire play is incredible. Garoppolo recognizing the defense and going through his progressions shows a mastery of the offense. His decision to throw to Goodwin on the slant, when Hyde was more clearly open on a shorter route, shows incredible decision making. His ability to flick the ball down the field off his back foot with pin point precision caps off a remarkable play.
This type of play show how special Garoppolo can truly be. Combining defense recognition, rapid decision making, and incredibly athletic throws, he could become one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Paired with a Shanahan, there may be a new dynamic duo in the NFL. Under Shanahan, Garoppolo is the chosen one that will bring the 49ers to the promised land.