The San Francisco 49ers acquired their quarterback of the future on Tuesday by trading for the New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo.The Niners agreed to send a 2018 second-round pick to the Patriots in the deal that will be official once Garoppolo passes a physical. He is expected to be introduced at a news conference later Tuesday.
San Francisco (0-8) had been expected to either draft a quarterback high in the first round next year or try to acquire a proven starter like Kirk Cousins in free agency.Instead, Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch decided to strike early and put the fate of their franchise in the hands in a quarterback who has started just two games in four N.F.L. seasons.
“We are thrilled for Jimmy to join the 49ers family,” Lynch said. “Jimmy is a player we have researched extensively since Kyle and I joined the 49ers. 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.”
Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, is in the final year of his contract. By acquiring him now, San Francisco gets a head start on negotiating a long-term deal to keep him or can use the franchise tag on him in free agency.
Garoppolo started in place of a suspended Tom Brady at the start of the 2016 season. He completed 42 of 59 passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and won both games. He was hurt in the second quarter of his second start and has thrown only four passes since then.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “I couldn’t ask for him to give us any more than he’s given us. The 49ers are getting a good player, and they’re getting a good person and they’re getting a great teammate. And they’re getting a good quarterback. 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 again I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. But as his career moves forward we have to look to our team, both this year and beyond.”
The Niners hope Garoppolo can be the quarterback to lead the franchise out of its recent cycle of losing that started when Jim Harbaugh was let go as coach after the 2014 season. San Francisco won seven games the past two years with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert sharing quarterback duties.
The 49ers are off to the worst start in franchise history this season, Shanahan’s first year at the helm. the veteran Brian Hoyer, who also began his career as Brady’s backup in New England, started the first six games, and the third-round rookie C.J. Beathard has struggled as the starter the past two weeks behind a patchwork offensive line.
Beathard has completed only 52.7 percent of his passes in his limited time, averaging 5.9 yards per attempt with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a 65.2 passer rating.He has been sacked 11 times on his 110 pass attempts and hit several others, with the Niners’ injury-riddled line giving him little time to succeed.
Garoppolo is the second backup quarterback to be traded by the Patriots this season. They dealt Jacoby Brissett to Indianapolis last month for receiver Phillip Dorsett. New England now has no backup on the roster for the 40-year-old Brady, and no quarterback of the future for whenever Brady decides to retire.
“We had probably had, in my opinion, the best quarterback situation in the league for the last, call it two and a half years,” Belichick said. “It’s just not sustainable given the way that things are set up. It’s definitely not something that we wanted to walk away from and I felt like we rode it out as long as we could. We, over a period of time, explored every option possible to try and sustain it. But at this point felt like we had to make a decision.”