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Giants coach Judge has fond memories of Jimmy G as Patriot

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New York Giants coach Joe Judge was not surprised to learn Jimmy Garoppolo remained in the 49ers' Week 2 game despite a high ankle sprain.

“Jimmy is a tough dude, man,” Judge said this week on a conference call with reporters. “One thing that stuck out about Jimmy early on was that he never backed down from any competition. It didn’t matter what room he was in, who he was competing with, Jimmy was always trying to get on the field and make an impact.”

Garoppolo made an impact on Sunday against the New York Jets, playing most of the first half with an injury that prevented him from playing in the second half and likely will keep him sidelined in Week 3 against the Giants.

Garoppolo completed 14 of 16 pass attempts for 131 yards with two touchdown and no interceptions. He left with the 49ers holding a comfortable 21-3 lead against the Jets.

Judge knows Garoppolo well from their time together with the New England Patriots. Judge was the special-teams coordinator under Bill Belichick during Garoppolo’s three-and-a-half seasons in New England.

“Jimmy is a dude,” Judge said. “I’d say he was one of the guys. You’d see him around the offensive line a lot. The defense would gravitate to him. He was very popular in the locker room. He was a guy when he stepped in the huddle, there was an immediate confidence around him.”

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Judge said when Garoppolo was elevated into the starting lineup at the start of the 2016 season while Tom Brady was serving a suspension, everyone in the Patriots' organization felt Garoppolo was fully capable of helping the team win games.

“There was a very high confidence level in Jimmy,” Judge said. “He’s a really good player. He’s got tremendous arm. He can make all the throws. He can beat you with his legs. He’s very mobile.

“He’s tough, man. He’s got those older brothers who would always show up at the game. You know, the typical Midwest meathead family. They were always a lot of fun to have around.”

The 49ers acquired Garoppolo in a trade from the Patriots for a second-round draft pick in the middle of the 2017 season. Garoppolo has played no small role in a remarkable turnaround for the 49ers.

In Garoppolo’s 29 starts, including the postseason, the 49ers are 22-7. In games he did not start in 2017 and ’18, the 49ers were 4-20.

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“It’s no surprise the success he’s had in San Francisco,” Judge said. “I think a whole lot of Jimmy.

“Obviously, Kyle has done a phenomenal job with him. He’s got a lot of talent. And he’s got a lot of gusto to him in the way he plays.”

Backup quarterback Nick Mullens is expected to start for the 49ers on Sunday with C.J. Beathard serving as the backup.