Jimmy Garoppolo is still the one who got away from Bill Belichick.
The popular theory is that the Patriots head coach had the quarterback pegged as Tom Brady's heir apparent in New England, but Brady's continued excellence (and perhaps a nudge from ownership) forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo before he could become the starter.
Belichick, whose Patriots host Garoppolo's 49ers on Sunday, didn't do much to refute that theory Monday.
"Everybody here had a lot of confidence in him," Belichick said in a conference call with San Francisco reporters, via NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco.
"It’s one of those situations where you’re not able to keep all the players, based on the situation that’s set up, which is understandable. I’m glad that it’s worked out for him and San Francisco. I hope it doesn’t work out on Sunday."
Belichick has made similar remarks before, openly hinting that he would have preferred to keep Garoppolo rather than trade him to San Francisco for a second-round pick in October 2017.
There's been speculation ever since as to whether the Patriots could have gotten more in return for Garoppolo. (49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has admitted he was surprised by Belichick's trade proposal.)
But if you believe the theory that Belichick wanted to do right by Garoppolo and trade him to a quality organization, the Patriots coach reinforced that thought, as well.
"(I'm) happy he has the opportunity to play for a great coach and a great organization and play on a great team," Belichick said. "I think he deserves that. He certainly worked hard and earned it, and (I’m) happy for him and his family."
According to Garoppolo, Belichick even texts with his former QB every now and then. So, while Belichick will game plan to neutralize Jimmy G on Sunday, it sounds like he'll be happy to see the 28-year-old in his first trip back to Foxboro since 2017.