Jimmy Garoppolo no longer is a New England Patriot, and one former team executive never thought he’d see the day.

Mike Lombardi, who was with the Patriots when they drafted the Eastern Illinois product in 2014, was shocked by the trade that sent the 26-year-old to the San Francisco 49ers, as he assumed Garoppolo would take over for Tom Brady when the time was right.

Lombardi went on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria” on Friday, and broke down how Brady’s elite play forced Bill Belichick to trade the heir apparent.

“I think they just ran out of time,” Lombardi said. “I always thought they wouldn’t trade him; I thought there would be a solution within the problem, whether it would be because of games and what happened on the field and all of these things. But look, Tom (Brady) has played better at 40 years old than he played at 37. He’s gotten better this year. His numbers are remarkably similar to what they were last year. He had a great season in 12 games last year. At the end of the day, it just become a decision they had to make. They made it. They were never going to get an extension with Don Yee –– the same agent for Tom Brady and the same agent for Jimmy Garoppolo –– no extension was ever going to get put in place. Because of that, they ran out of options and took the best deal.”

New England received a 2018 second-round draft pick from the 49ers in exchange for the guy who was expected to replace Brady when the time came. But Brady has shown no signs of slowing down, as he leads the NFL in passing yards through eight weeks.

“The guy has won five Super Bowls and his play hasn’t declined to the degree where you have to say, ‘Oh my gosh.’ When you drafted Jimmy, and we did in 2014, did anybody think Tom could keep playing until he’s 40?” Lombardi said. “At the time when we drafted Jimmy, Peyton Manning was still playing at the highest level of anybody. And now he’s out of the league. Father Time hasn’t caught up to Tom and he seems to be able to avoid it. What else can you do?”

The Patriots signed Brian Hoyer to a three-year contract after the Garoppolo trade, signaling they expect Brady to be around a little bit longer.

Something Lombardi, and probably Belichick, never expected.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images