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How Jimmy G ended up in a ditch soon after trade to 49ers

NBC Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo figured it was not good for his health to spend too much time thinking about the next stop along his NFL journey.

But he certainly did not figure he would end up in a ditch immediately following his trade from the New England Patriots in 2017.

Garoppolo spent 3 ½ seasons with the Patriots before getting the call from coach Bill Belichick to inform him he was heading to the 49ers.

The quarterback returns to Foxboro this weekend for the first time to face his former team. He can only hope his return trip goes a lot better than when he left.

The Patriots were on the bye week in the 2017 season. He planned to travel home to visit family in the Chicago area for his birthday. But the trade meant Garoppolo had to get to work with his new team.

He awakened early on Oct. 31 for a flight out of T.F. Green International Airport, outside of Providence, Rhode Island.

Garoppolo’s Halloween scare came on Interstate 95 during his early morning limousine ride to the airport.

“A car jumped off the exit ramp, and was coming downhill at us, toward the driver’s side window,” Garoppolo recalled on "49ers Talk," which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I just saw headlights and the driver reacted, got us off into a ditch. It happened so fast. I’m in a panic in the backseat, like, ‘Holy ... we almost just died, man.’ ”

 

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Garoppolo had the right person at quarterback for that drive to the airport. But his reaction to the close call was completely different than the man behind the wheel.

“The driver turned around -- I’ll never forget it -- he was like, ‘Whoa! That was awesome!’ " Garoppolo recalled. "And I was like, ‘That was not awesome. That was crazy. But great job!'

“It was an interesting morning. Definitely a great start to coming out west.”

Garoppolo was the subject of a lot of trade speculation for nearly a year.

After Garoppolo wrapped up his third season with the Patriots, the 49ers made a call to Belichick but were rebuffed in the spring of 2017.

Because the Patriots would not be able to retain Tom Brady and pay Garoppolo the price to retain him after the 2017 season as an unrestricted free agent, trade talk figured to heat up as the deadline neared.

“It was kind of one of those things, during the season, we’re so swamped with game plans and just everything you’re doing on a day-to-day basis that you can’t get caught up in that,” Garoppolo said.

“I remember initially I was a little bit, just thinking about it and reading all this stuff. Then, I was like, ‘Dude, I’m never going to be able to survive this season if I keep thinking about it,’ so it was kind of on the back burner, out of sight, out of mind.”

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Garoppolo said his mom predicted a trade was forthcoming.

Shortly thereafter, he was changing his travel plans, packing his bags, in a ditch, back on the road. He was on his way to the Bay Area after leaving the great learning experience with Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots, winners of two Super Bowls in Garoppolo's first three seasons.

“It happened so fast,” Garoppolo said. “I really didn’t have time to think about anything. Didn’t have time to overthink or anything like that. It was a crazy experience.

“It changed me in a good way. It changed me as a player, as a person, just everything I went through with that experience. It got me to where I am right now, so I couldn’t be happier with that.”