Jimmy Garoppolo's NFL career will be forever linked to the GOAT.
Garoppolo came to the Patriots in 2014 as New England's second-round draft pick knowing he'd be entrenched as Tom Brady's backup.
Brady's four-game suspension in 2016 allowed Jimmy G. to make a pair of starts, however, and the quarterback apparently showed enough potential for the San Francisco 49ers to acquire him via trade in Oct. 2017, then sign him to what then was the largest contract in NFL history in the 2018 offseason.
Garoppolo returns to the House That Brady Built this Sunday for Patriots-49ers, and while his former teammate is down in Tampa Bay now, the occasion still prompted a trip down memory lane.
"My time in New England was awesome,” Garoppolo said on NBC Sports Bay Area's 49ers Talk Podcast, via 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco. “I enjoyed every bit of it. It got me to where I’m at today."
As for his relationship with Brady, his teammate of three-plus seasons in New England? Garoppolo said the six-time Super Bowl champion impressed him from the beginning -- even as the two tried to bridge their age gap.
"The daily conversations initially were new to me," Garoppolo said. “We’re talking about his family, his kids, things like that. And I’m a 22-year-old kid, fresh out of college, so that took a little while. But the friendship, the competitiveness that we always had for each other, that pretty much clicked right away."
Garoppolo admitted he was hesitant at first to seek advice from Brady, who had gone through a Rolodex of backups in New England and entered 2014 with a chip on his shoulder after the Patriots' loss in the AFC Championship Game the previous season.
"I didn’t want to be a bother or a nuisance to him,” Garoppolo said. “I just tried to pick up everything I could, just organically. I didn’t want to be a pest and annoy him too much. But whenever I saw an opportunity to learn something new, see something he did, I tried to take advantage of it."
As Garoppolo's confidence grew, however, so did his rapport with Brady, to the point where the two QBs would go at it in practice.
"Once I got comfortable with the offense and got into training camp, and we would get competitive with one another, that was when things really got fun,” Garoppolo said. "I can remember watching film, we’d watch other quarterbacks, just me and Tom, and just see little trick throws they do or sidearm throws, and we’d try it in practice. I’d always get a kick out of those things."
Competing against a player of Brady's caliber undoubtedly helped Garoppolo as he took over the 49ers' starting job. On Sunday, he'll get to put the lessons he learned from Brady to use against his former team.