San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is no stranger to championship games, but his experience this weekend will be a little bit different.
Garoppolo has led the 49ers to Sunday's NFC Championship Game, where they'll play the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium with a spot in Super Bowl LIV at stake.
The 28-year-old spent a little more than two seasons with the New England Patriots as their backup QB after they drafted him in 2014. The Patriots went to the AFC Championship Game twice in that span, and even though veteran quarterback Tom Brady played all of the snaps in those games, Garoppolo was still able to observe a few things that have helped him with the 49ers.
"I tried to see things from afar," Garoppolo said at his Wednesday press conference. "Obviously, not being on the field, it's a little different. Just the preparation that goes into it, the atmosphere in the locker room, the atmosphere in the whole building, really. I felt it, very similar to [New England], I feel it here. I'm not trying to compare the two teams, but when you get into that playoff atmosphere and it's a championship game, things get amped up. And you have to do the same."
Garoppolo also highlighted one aspect of Brady's preparation that's made a positive impact on him.
“I haven’t personally talked to him [in the build-up to the NFC title game], but things that I took away from watching him go through it and everything, just the consistency that he had throughout the entire run,” Garoppolo said. “Whatever it was, the first playoff game, the Super Bowl -- he was very consistent between all of it, and I think that just goes into your preparation throughout the week. If you are prepared going into the game, then you’re going to play like that.”
Garoppolo and the 49ers earned a berth to the NFC Championship Game with a 27-10 victory against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round last weekend. If the 49ers win two more games, Garoppolo will not only earn his first Super Bowl ring as a starting quarterback, he'll move the 'Niners into a tie with the Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most championships (six) in the Super Bowl era.