Bill Belichick had nothing but kind words for Jimmy Garoppolo after trading the 25-year-old quarterback to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday.
“First of all, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy,” the New England Patriots coach said in a conference call Tuesday morning, shortly after the trade became official. “I couldn’t ask for him to give us any more than he’s given us.”
Garoppolo started just two games in his 3 1/2 seasons with the Patriots, spending the majority of his career backing up superstar Tom Brady. Now, he finally gets his shot, taking over a 49ers team led by offensive-minded first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan.
“The 49ers are getting a good player, they’re getting a good person, and they’re getting a great teammate, and they’re getting a good quarterback,” Belichick said. “And Jimmy’s getting a good coach. His career is moving forward. He’s a talented individual. He was a great person to coach. I met with him weekly, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. But as his career moves forward, we have to look at our team, both this year and beyond, and that’s a consideration we had to make.”
Belichick added the Garoppolo-Brady combination gave the Patriots “the best quarterback situation in the league for the last two-and-a-half years.” But given Garoppolo’s desire for playing time and his contract situation — he was set to hit free agency in 2018 — that situation was “just not sustainable.”
“It’s definitely not something that we wanted to walk away from,” Belichick said. “I thought we rode it out as long as we could.”
In a statement announcing the trade, San Francisco general manager John Lynch said he is “thrilled for Jimmy to join the 49ers family.”
“Jimmy is a player we have researched extensively since Kyle and I joined the 49ers,” Lynch said. “I am extremely pleased this came together today and we all think it is a big win for our organization. Albeit in limited game action, Jimmy has displayed the characteristics and traits that we believe are vital to being a successful quarterback in this league. He has had the rare opportunity to sit and learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in a championship atmosphere. We look forward to Jimmy joining the team (Wednesday) and hitting the ground running.”
Lynch added in an interview with 49ers team reporter Joe Fann that rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard will start this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals while Garoppolo gets acclimated to his new playbook.
The GM, who briefly played for the Patriots before retiring in 2008, also confirmed the 49ers will release quarterback Brian Hoyer. Hoyer began his career as Brady’s backup, and many expect the 32-year-old to return to New England to reprise that role.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images