Jimmy Garoppolo

Jed York reflects on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo trade before Super Bowl 54

Jed York reflects on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo trade before Super Bowl 54

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers CEO Jed York in 2017 was looking for an offensive-minded head coach who could get the most out of his quarterback.

But when the 49ers hired coach Kyle Shanahan, the organization did not have any quarterbacks under contract at the time free agency began.

General manager John Lynch and Shanahan informed Colin Kaepernick he did not fit the team’s offensive plan and would be released, so Kaepernick opted out of his contract. The 49ers had no interest in re-signing Blaine Gabbert, either.

Instead, the 49ers signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley at the start of free agency. C.J. Beathard was drafted, and Nick Mullens signed as an undrafted rookie.

But the 49ers did not add the quarterback they knew would be their answer until the middle of the 2017 season when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for just a second-round draft pick.

“When we made the trade in the middle of the season, Kyle was probably the most conservative with it,” York said. “Everybody from Mandy Shanahan (Kyle’s wife) to all our fans were ready for him to start Day 1.

“But we had to make sure that we did it the right way. And we didn’t do something just because it was going to get the fans fired up. We wanted to put Jimmy in the right situation to be successful.”

York said Shanahan told Garoppolo he might not take a snap in a game for the rest of the season, as Garoppolo had to learn at least the basics of the offense. Shanahan told Garoppolo that he was not on an audition.

Garoppolo was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the club was going to, at least, put the franchise tag on him for more than $23 million to keep him around for the 2018 season.

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Garoppolo got his first chance to start in Week 13, and it began a remarkable stretch of success for the 49ers. The club began the season 0-9, and after five consecutive victories with Garoppolo as the starter to finish the season, the 49ers finished at 6-10.

Five weeks later, York signed off on a five-year, $137.5 million contract for Garoppolo. The 49ers got little return on that investment in 2018 when Garoppolo sustained a torn ACL in Week 3.

This season, Garoppolo flourished as a starter in all 18 games en route to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday in Miami.

Garoppolo earned immediate trust and confidence from his teammates and the entire organization since his arrival in Santa Clara, and he has done nothing to give anyone in the organization reasons to doubt him ever since.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G's impact on 49ers goes beyond the numbers]

“If you don’t have a quarterback who can win in big games and big moments, it’s really, really hard to get to this point,” York said. “And Jimmy, obviously, exceeded any expectations in those games that you could ever ask for a player coming into an organization.

“And he’s continued to improve, he’s continued to work, he’s continued to get better. If you don’t have a quarterback, to me, you just don’t have a chance. It was a must.”

How Jimmy Garoppolo's impact on 49ers' offense goes beyond numbers

How Jimmy Garoppolo's impact on 49ers' offense goes beyond numbers

Despite the 49ers finishing with a 13-3 record and advancing to Super Bowl LIV, few NFL pundits seem willing to give Jimmy Garoppolo any credit for the team’s success.

The quarterback needed just eight pass attempts to defeat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, as San Francisco rode a dominant run game and suffocating defensive performance to a 37-20 victory.

Fox Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd isn’t among the detractors and voiced his support for Jimmy G ahead of a Super Bowl showdown with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

“He carried this team in the middle of the season when they fell apart physically,” Cowherd said on "The Herd" this week. “I’m not a stat guy, I’m an eye guy. Watch the games.”

The success of the run game for the Niners this season didn’t necessitate a lot of pass-heavy games, but Garoppolo still finished eighth among qualified NFL quarterbacks in passer rating.

[RELATED: 49ers taking entire staff to Super Bowl]

When the 49ers have ended up in a shootout this year, Garoppolo has stepped up.

When they’ve needed him to just manage the game and make the occasional throw downfield, Garoppolo has stepped up.

No matter what the scenario, Garoppolo has delivered and this 49ers team wouldn't be anywhere near the Super Bowl without his steady leadership guiding the offense.

Jimmy G now has the chance to solidify himself among the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks when he and the Niners take the field against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.

Super Bowl 54 odds: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes clear favorite to win MVP

Super Bowl 54 odds: Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes clear favorite to win MVP

The 49ers' defense will closely watch Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV. Just over a week before the teams square off in Miami, oddsmakers have their eyes on the reigning NFL MVP, too. 

Mahomes is the odds-on favorite to be named Super Bowl MVP on Feb. 3, according to Caesars Palace. The third-year pro is listed at +105, while 49ers counterpart Jimmy Garoppolo has the second-best odds at +275.

It's hard to go wrong with a QB for Super Bowl MVP, considering a signal-caller has won the award 29 of 53 times. Mahomes arguably is the most exciting player in the NFL, too, orchestrating double-digit comebacks in each of the Chiefs' wins to advance out of the AFC to their first Super Bowl since 1970.

Caesars clearly are banking on Garoppolo driving the 49ers' bus rather than being a passenger. Garoppolo threw the ball a combined 27 times for 208 yards in San Francisco's first two playoff games after averaging 29.75 attempts per game during the regular season, and his odds indicate an expectation -- whether that's the sportsbook's or bettors' -- that he'll return to form in the Super Bowl.

[RELATED: How Kittle's run-blocking enthusiasm rubs off on 49ers]

Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis was the most recent running back to win Super Bowl MVP, and only six running backs have earned the honor. A tight end has never won it, and those notions are reflected in Raheem Mostert (+600) and George Kittle's (+1000) odds, respectively. Mostert is coming off a franchise-record-setting performance in the NFC Championship Game, while Kittle led the 49ers in receiving for the second straight season and graded out as Pro Football Focus' best player this season.

Given their role in the 49ers' offense, they'd seem to be decent longshots if San Francisco wins its sixth Super Bowl. As those who picked the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round can tell you, you ultimately bet against Mahomes at your own peril, though.