PHOENIX — Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is embracing his role as the leader of the franchise as he looks toward the start of the 2019 season.
49ers CEO Jed York spoke at the NFL owners meeting about Garoppolo like a proud parent.
He has been keeping an eye on his quarterback’s rehab and reports that he sees Garoppolo developing into a true leader. He said the two of them chat regularly.
“I’m not going over film with Jimmy,” York said, “so I don’t think we have to worry about anything from that standpoint. I see Jimmy, whether it’s in the lunch room or if I’m down in the training room or if we’re working out.”
Garoppolo has been organizing workouts at the team’s Santa Clara facility. There has been a group of 20 to 25 players participating from both the offense and the defense, York said. As long as there are no coaches present the players are allowed to work out at the facility.
“It’s great to see that,” York said. “The team is really, really jelling and watching them come together as a unit, that’s what you need. It’s not a collection of individuals. It’s a team.”
Garoppolo’s involvement doesn't stop there, though.
He was very active during free agency, playing the role of recruiter by calling some players the 49ers were interested in.
“I know he called the guys who we were interested in on the first day or so of free agency and expressed his interest in getting guys here,” York said. “I’m fairly certain that he called Kwon (Alexander) during that negotiating window when you can start talking to people.”
York explained that this is a new aspect of Garoppolo’s role as the face of the franchise.
“Those are things that he wants to do,” York said. “That’s where it’s different when you come in and you’ve been a backup, now being the guy. It’s hard when you’re the guy, you’re the highest-paid player, but you’re not playing for (the) team.”
Obviously, York would have preferred to have Garoppolo on the field for the entire season in 2018, but he sees the positives that came from Garoppolo's season-ending knee injury.
“I think he was able to learn a lot of the cerebral things,” York said, “and a lot of the things that come with that leadership position over the last year, which really excites me for him going forward.”
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York said Garoppolo is ahead of schedule on his path back to the football field after sustaining a torn ACL in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Garoppolo looks as if he has added some muscle to his frame while going through his daily rehab, York said.
“He’s just grinding every single day to get better personally and to get better as a team and understanding how important it is to do those things as a team leader,” York said.