After serving a three-and-a-half-year quarterback apprenticeship with the New England Patriots under Tom Brady, Rolling Meadows High School product Jimmy Garoppolo now is the main man for the San Francisco 49ers.
Garoppolo makes his first start for his new team at Soldier Field Sunday against the Bears, the team he rooted for while growing up in Arlington Heights. Both Garoppolo and Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky wear No. 10 and carry the hopes of their struggling franchises on their backs.
Bears fans know all about Trubisky, so here are 10 things to know about Garoppolo as he steps onto Soldier Field for the first time:
Will he be distracted returning home?
Says San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan: “He fully understands what this business is, what his job is. I don’t think he thinks about going to Chicago to see people. I know he’s going there with one thing in mind, just like we all are.”
How should he handle the comparisons to Tom Brady?
Jeff Garcia, former 49ers quarterback who followed Steve Young: “Jimmy has to take everything he learned and not be a chameleon and try to be Tom Brady. “He’s got to be Jimmy Garoppolo.” (mercurynews.com)
Jimmy on his future:
“I’m trying not to think about the future too much. I’ve learned in the past that when your mind wanders like that, quarterbacking in this league is hard enough. So when you start thinking about other things, you’re gonna have a tough time. I think just staying focused on the Bears this week — I hold myself to a high level. I’ve been doing that my whole life. And I think that won’t stop.”
What did Garoppolo do right after his first news conference with the 49ers?
Peter King of MMQB at SI.com said he asked to see the 49ers field: “Garoppolo stared out at the field for a full 20 seconds or so. This was his field now, and, barring an upset, the Niners would be his team. Finally, after sitting behind an all-time great, Garoppolo knows this is his time. He took time to soak it in. He’s a mature kid. He knows this team is miles away from being good. But he’s been an heir for four seasons. Now he’ll get to be the man … and oddly, he’ll be the man on the team Tom Brady worshipped as a kid. Heck of a story.”
On what sets him apart from other QBs:
QB guru Jeff Christensen to profootballweekly.com on his former pupil: “Jimmy just 100 percent bought in. I’d say, ‘Do this,’ and he’d just do it. … He kept getting better and better and better. And he still is.”
Does he stay humble and true to his roots?
From the San Jose Mercury News: Garoppolo still totes an Eastern Illinois backpack, rather than one from his NFL teams or a high-end fashion line. Why? “You’ve got to remember where you came from,” Garoppolo responded with a proud nod to all FCS products.
How big is the EIU connection in the NFL?
Bigger than you think. A few of the notable alums include: Tony Romo (ex-Dallas QB), Brad Childress (ex-Vikings coach) John Jurkovic (ex- defensive lineman), Ryan Pace (Bears GM), Sean Payton (Saints coach), Mike Shanahan (ex-coach), and QB coaching guru Jeff Christensen of throwitdeep.com.
Bleacher Report: “Jimmy Garoppolo has taken just three snaps as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, but all three of those plays had positive outcomes. In fact, Garoppolo accomplished more for the 49ers offense in 67 seconds Sunday than starter C.J. Beathard did the rest of the day.”
What should we watch for against the Bears?
Says Profootballfocus.com: “During his brief stint as New England’s starter last season, Garoppolo had the NFL’s best passer rating without play action (133.6), but the fourth-worst with it (61.8). Kyle Shanahan has called for play action on just shy of one-quarter of San Francisco’s passing attempts this season (23.4 percent, 11th most) despite playing from behind most of the time, so Garoppolo should have plenty of opportunity to prove that to be nothing more than small-sample-size theater.”
Which QB wins this game?
Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com: “Jimmy G takes on Mitchell T and the loser will be in better position to get him some help in the draft. The 49ers lose by winning. 49ers 17, Bears 13.
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