Jimmy Garoppolo is out of Tom Brady’s shadow now. He can build his own legacy on his own team without worrying about filling TB12’s shoes.
But you’d best believe he learned everything he could from the best quarterback-head coach combo in the NFL.
Garoppolo came up big in his first San Francisco 49ers start Sunday, leading a 14-play, 86-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning field goal with four seconds remaining. Jimmy G’s stats weren’t exactly eye-popping, but his poise on that final drive reminded some of Brady’s late-game heroics under Bill Belichick on the New England Patriots.
Coincidence? Not quite. Garoppolo admitted to MMQB’s Peter King that the “little things” he gleaned from Brady and Belichick during his three-plus years in New England were on his mind Sunday.
“I was thinking about them on the final drive, when we drove for the winning score,” Garoppolo told King.
More specifically, Garoppolo credited the situational drills that Belichick harps on in practice for preparing him for that last drive.
“We knew we needed first downs,” he said, “and we knew we needed to work the clock. That’s what I learned playing for Coach Belichick. It’s funny you mention that, because I was thinking about that (clock management) on the field. Coach would run through situations like this all the time.”
The 26-year-old QB, who joined San Francisco on Oct. 31 in a surprise trade, also was asked about the biggest lesson he learned from Brady while in New England.
“I’d say preparation,” Garoppolo responded. “That stuff that goes unnoticed. Practice. Tom used to say you could get better in practice every day. The time you spend on the things you didn’t do in college — studying, watching film, the little things, everything. I was able to watch him for three and a half years, and I hope to carry those lessons for the rest of my career.”
Brady is keeping tabs on his protégé, too; the Patriots QB sent a congratulatory text to Garoppolo after the win, according to King.