Despite leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth in his first full season as a starter, Jimmy Garoppolo has been a polarizing topic this offseason, with many wondering if the 49ers should have tried to replace him with Tom Brady or make a change at quarterback next offseason if things don't work out for the 49ers in 2020.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have been open and honest about their discussions surrounding the possibility of bringing Brady to the Bay. Those talks didn't bother Garoppolo, who backed up Brady for three-and-a-half seasons in New England.
“It kind of comes with the territory,” Garoppolo told The Athletic's Matt Barrows of the Brady noise. “It comes with the job.”
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Despite the immense amount of criticism, Garoppolo put up good numbers in his first full season in Shanahan's offense and deserves more respect after a Super Bowl run. He was top five in the NFL in touchdowns (27), completion percentage (69.1) and yards per attempt (8.4). He also was one of the best red-zone passers in the NFL and the most accurate deep-ball thrower, according to Pro Football Focus.
His adjusted completion percentage (78.8) to deep passing percentage (105.2) to passer rating in a clean pocket (110.8) all rank in the top 10, per PFF.
But still, Brady is Brady. One of the few athletes you have to think about adding if they are interested in playing for your franchise.
Both Lynch and Shanahan kept Garoppolo apprised of their thinking every step of the way, something the 28-year-old greatly appreciated.
“The one thing I can say about the whole situation was Kyle and John were very honest with me the whole time,” Garoppolo told Barrows. “That’s their job -- to put the best team together possible and you’ve got to respect that. So as long as the honesty and truthfulness is there, I respect those guys, I love those guys. And it’s going to be a fun year this year.”
Brady ended up signing a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving the 49ers another NFL roadblock in their path back to the Super Bowl.
Garoppolo's play last season was good but Shanahan knows his quarterback can improve in a number of key areas and he expects that to happen. The Brady pursuit had little to do with Garoppolo's play, though. It was just about Brady's unimpeachable credentials.
"We had to seriously discuss it to decide whether to go forward to where it could come close or not," Shanahan told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show" back in April. "So it didn't come close, but that's why John and I had to put the time into it. If you would have asked us that right after the Super Bowl -- I mean, Tom Brady, everyone knows what Tom Brady is, and how unbelievable he's been. But if you had asked us that right after the Super Bowl, that's kind of unheard of. It's a pipe dream. Like, you don't really think about that.
"We were just so happy with our team and happy with Jimmy [Garoppolo]. It didn't end the way we wanted. We can all do better -- myself, Jimmy."
The 49ers were seven minutes away from Super Bowl glory in January before Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs ripped off a 21-0 run to stun Garoppolo and the 49ers in Miami.
Despite being so close to winning a Super Bowl, Garoppolo wasn't hurt by the 49ers doing their due diligence on Brady.
“It’s the NFL,” Garoppolo told Barrows. “There’s competition. Everyone’s trying to put the best team together they can. And that’s just the reality of it.”
The 49ers head into the 2020 season with a loaded roster that is primed to win now. They survived the losses of DeForest Buckner, Joe Staley and Emmanuel Sanders by drafting Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk and trading for Trent Williams.
With their Super Bowl window wide open, the 49ers need Garoppolo to make the necessary improvements and take a leap up in 2020.
Shanahan and Lynch put the pressure on Garoppolo by publically acknowledging their discussions around Brady this offseason. They believe in and trust Garoppolo. Now it's time for him to reward their faith.