Bill Belichick's decision to use a second-round pick on Jimmy Garoppolo during the 2014 NFL Draft surprised many, including Tom Brady.
Brady was 36 at the time and still was confident he had a lot of football left in the tank when the New England Patriots selected Garoppolo as his would-be successor. During Tuesday's episode of "Man in the Arena," Brady revealed his initial thoughts on Belichick's selection of Garoppolo.
“We drafted Jimmy, and I just thought, like every other time, you embrace them, they’re you’re teammate,” Brady said. “Now, we drafted Jimmy higher. Coach Belichick referenced my age to me, referenced it to the media. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘What are you talking about?'”
At that point, Brady had won three Super Bowls and was entering his 15th NFL season. Belichick was playing the odds believing that Brady would soon retire or his game would deteriorate.
“I think he was just referencing, well, not many quarterbacks have ever played and been successful late in their career, and that’s just a fact," Brady said. "Of course, for me, I was just like, I don’t care about any of those things."
Brady would lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl during the following season and tack on two more in New England before leaving for Tampa Bay, where he would capture his seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Garoppolo spent three-and-a-half seasons in New England as Brady's backup before being traded to the 49ers for a second-round pick on Halloween in 2017.
Garoppolo led the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, but injuries and questions about his ceiling led coach Kyle Shanahan to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Trey Lance as the next franchise quarterback.
The 30-year-old quarterback has handled the situation with Lance flawlessly, using lessons he learned as Brady's back up to make the situation as smooth as possible.
"It's kind of coming full circle," Garoppolo told ESPN's "Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin" after the draft. "You go through this NFL career, and you start as a young guy coming in. Tom kind of showed me the ropes. The competition between us was awesome. It really made me grow as a rookie and as a young player. So, that's kind of what me and Trey, we'll mold our relationship into that. But it will happen naturally. It's one of those things you can't force anything. Just let it come as it may."
The 49ers entered the season planning on deploying both Garoppolo and Lance during the season. Lance saw meaningful snaps early in the season, but Shanahan realized he was able to get in a better rhythm as a play-caller with stability under center.
Lance hasn't taken a meaningful snap since Week 5, and Garoppolo has played arguably the best football of his career over the past eight weeks, posting eight straight games with a QBR over 90.
After a 3-5 start, Garoppolo has the 49ers at 8-6 and primed to punch a ticket to the postseason where they will be a team few teams want to face. As for Brady, now 44, he and the Bucs are 10-4 and will be among the favorites to win the Super Bowl when the playoffs begin.