SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Jimmy Garoppolo’s early NFL education came going up against Bill Belichick’s complicated defense each day in practice with the New England Patriots.
That work helped Garoppolo develop from a raw prospect coming out of Eastern Illinois into an accomplished quarterback in the NFL, even if it took leaving New England to do it.
Now Garoppolo gets his first chance to go up against his former coach and team since being traded away to San Francisco nearly three years ago when the 49ers visit the Patriots on Sunday.
“It set me up for everything here, made the transition a lot easier,” Garoppolo said about the work he did with the Patriots. “Initially I could remember the first OTAs and training camp. It was rough going from college to the NFL. That’s why when you see these guys come in and start right away, it’s impressive.”
Garoppolo said he had to learn everything from how to play from under center instead of the shotgun to identifying fronts and coverages when he got to the NFL as Tom Brady’s backup after being drafted in the second round in 2014.
He said he owes much of his success to that time, appreciating everything Belichick taught him.
“He was just very honest,” Garoppolo said. “Really never beat around the bush. He’s very black and white with everything they did. That’s kind of how I am. I really appreciate that from him. Whether it was my first day there or when I got traded, he always shot me straight and I think just when you’re talking about just man to man, that’s all you could really ask for at the end of the day.”
Garoppolo never got much of a chance to play in New England with Brady entrenched as the starter. He started two games to open the 2016 season when Brady was suspended but got hurt in the second game and missed an opportunity to start the final two games.