Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo
When the San Francisco 49ers fell to 1-10 after a 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 26, they decided to start Jimmy Garoppolo and use the rest of the season to evaluate whether the former Patriot was their quarterback of the future.
Evidently, the 49ers liked what they saw. Garoppolo made the most of his opportunity by going 5-0, and on Thursday, San Francisco made him the highest-paid player in the NFL, according to reports, signing him to a five-year deal worth $137.5 million.
Garoppolo was drafted by the Patriots in 2014 and was Tom Brady’s backup until he was traded to San Francisco last Oct. 30 for a second-round draft pick. In 2016, Garoppolo made two starts for the Patriots while Brady was serving a four-game suspension from the Deflategate fallout, going 2-0.
Garoppolo was tremendous on opening night 2016, directing the Patriots to a win over the Cardinals in Arizona in prime time. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pounder was brilliant in the home opener the following week, carving up the Dolphins for 232 yards and three touchdown passes — all in the first half — before he suffered a sprained AC joint on a takedown by Kiko Alonso.
New England’s second-round pick and the 62d overall selection in 2014, Garoppolo was considered to be the next starting quarterback for the Patriots, but Brady showed no signs of decline this year, and at 40 was named NFL MVP.
“It’s definitely not something that we wanted to walk away from, and I felt like we rode it out as long as we could,” coach Bill Belichick said at the time of the trade. “We over a period of time explored every option possible to try to sustain it, but just at this point felt like we had to make a decision.
“It’s just not sustainable given the way that things are set up.”
Belichick went on to praise Garoppolo.
“The 49ers are getting a good player, and they’re getting a good person, and they’re getting a great teammate and they’re getting a good quarterback,’’ Belichick said.
“He’s a talented individual, was a great person to coach. I met with him weekly and, again, have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
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