Bill Belichick knows everything there is to know about Jimmy Garoppolo.
The New England Patriots head coach spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of Garoppolo's career molding the young quarterback into Tom Brady's heir and was ready to move on from Brady in favor of Garoppolo had owner Robert Kraft given the move the OK.
Instead, Belichick traded Garoppolo to the 49ers and now will face his old quarterback Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Former 49ers linebacker and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Takeo Spikes knows what it's like to face a Belichick team and knows that the legendary coach will have a plan to attack Garoppolo's weaknesses, which were on display two weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins and former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
"What do you think the guys are going to be thinking knowing the previous relationship that Bill Belichick has with Jimmy G, number one, and then understanding how to game plan against this offensive football team," Spikes said. "Where did the 49ers look their worst? Well, they did that a few weeks ago against the Miami Dolphins. Brian Flores, the head football coach, where did he come from? The Patriots. Bill Belichick is going to look and see where are you weak? And where are certain guys playing the weakest consistently?
"Jimmy G came back to play against the Dolphins, only went seven of 17 and threw for 77 yards and two interceptions before being benched. George Kittle did not have any explosive plays. His longest pass play was only 12 yards. So if you're a player inside this 49ers locker room and you understand how people are going to come after your tendencies, your weak tendencies this is exactly what Belichick is going to do. But you have to gamble sometimes and that's what I expect from some of the 49ers players this Sunday."
Garoppolo and the 49ers' offense got back into the groove last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams thanks to a brilliant offensive game plan from coach Kyle Shanahan. Knowing that Garoppolo was still hobbled on that sprained ankle, Shanahan devised a game plan to get the ball out of Garoppolo's hands quickly and into the possession of the 49ers' biggest playmakers Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Kittle.
This included some pop passes, quick outs, reverses and wide receiver/tight end sweeps, getting the YAC Bros the ball with a full head of steam going around the edge. The short, quick passes coupled with a bruising and efficient running game
While the Rams were unable to find a way to slow down Shanahan's masterpiece, you can be sure that Belichick has been sleeping at 1 Patriot Place grinding film and devising ways to make it hard for Kittle, Samuel and Aiyuk to beat them, especially with passes behind the line of scrimmage.
Knowing Garoppolo still is healing from a high ankle sprain and that he's never had the strongest arm, Belichick undoubtedly will try and make Garoppolo and the 49ers beat them with deep vertical passes rather than safe, efficient throws near the line of scrimmage.
How the 49ers counter that will determine whether or not they leave Foxboro with a win.