Jimmy Garoppolo Reflects On What He Learned Sitting Behind Tom Brady
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - No organization, no coach, and no player know more about the Super Bowl than the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. They have hoisted more Lombardi trophies than anyone in the last 20 years and other franchises have been dying to know how they do it, hence why so many assistant coaches with the Patriots get promotions with other teams.
Garoppolo spent the first three and a half years of his career studying under Belichick and Brady before the Patriots shipped him away to 49ers for the surprising low price of a second-round draft pick. During his time in New England, Jimmy G was Brady's backup on championship teams in 2014 and 2016 and witnessed a couple of legendary fourth-quarter performances by Tom Brady.
Six years ago against the Seattle Seahawks, Brady orchestrated two touchdown drives in the final frame to give the Patriots the lead and of course, Malcolm Butler sealed the deal with an end zone interception in the final seconds when the Seahawks decided not to give Marshawn Lynch the ball. Then, two years later, was the epic 28 to 3 comeback that 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan, then Falcons offensive coordinator, knows all too well.
San Francisco’s signal-caller had a front-row seat for those performances, but he wasn’t just a spectator as here’s what Garoppolo had to say when asked about what he can learn from his former teammate:
“I think just how calm he was, everyone says you’ve got to treat it like another game, just the way he actually did it. I was up close and personal...picking up everything I could, seeing how he went about his business and everything. And obviously it worked out the two times that I was there with him. Trying to transfer that over to my game.”
Brady's calm demeanor is likely what led to the comebacks, which is clearly something Garoppolo will try and emulate. When asked a similar question later in the press conference, Garoppolo emphasized how he intends to adopt Brady’s “it’s just another game” philosophy.
Preparing for the big game as a backup is obviously a lot different than as the starter so Jimmy G will need to do more than just lean on his previous experiences. He stated that reaching out to the four-time Super Bowl MVP for some advice “wouldn’t be a bad idea” and “any information [he] can get would be great.”
Leveraging relationships is a key component to any professional career and Garoppolo appears to be utilizing his network effectively.
That's something that his teammates will also be doing with him since he is one of few players on the roster with Super Bowl experience. When asked if he would be picking Garoppolo's brain regarding the Super Bowl, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne answered, "Yeah definitely. Just asking him questions, knowing how he felt in those situations. How he felt that type of environment."
Bourne will not be the only player to ask tips about the Super Bowl. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk plans on doing so as well, or at least he will now once he was asked if he would be picking Garoppolo's brain. "Now that you say that, yeah," he said. "But honestly at the end of the day it's a game and we've played 18 of them already this year. We're not making it something bigger than it is."
Having Garoppolo helping his teammates is a benefit to them, but not something that will dramatically tip the scale. The 49ers’ quarterback sounds poised and confident that his experience on this stage will transition well to next Sunday. That should go a long way and help him during the game’s key moments.
With how evenly matched these teams appear to be, winning the championship will likely come down to a few key plays from the quarterbacks.
Now, the question is, with the ball in his hands, can Jimmy Garoppolo answer the call the same way Tom Brady has? San Francisco sure his team spent learning from Brady was time well spent.