When 49ers players report to training camp Wednesday, they’ll have a franchise quarterback for the first time in several years.
Jimmy Garoppolo showed the NFL late last season what he could do, leading the Niners to five straight victories, giving the franchise a truckload of hope and earning a lucrative contract extension for himself.
The young man not only is talented, but confident – not a bad thing in a quarterback.
In a long profile of Garoppolo published by Bleacher Report this week, writer Joon Lee noted that Garoppolo always has had supreme faith in his abilities and the competitiveness to try to show how good he is. During his seasons with the Patriots as Tom Brady’s backup, Garoppolo often had one-on-one competitions with Brady and came to believe he was better than the guy who has led New England to five Super Bowl titles.
Said Garoppolo to Lee: “I’ve always had that mindset. I knew that (Brady) was better than me in my first day in the NFL. Naturally, you’re the rookie and he’s the veteran, but you have to have that mindset, that you want to be the starter.
“Even when I was a little kid, my brothers, whenever we would play, I would literally always think I was going to win. I wouldn’t, but I would always think that. It’s like when I go to New England, when I first got there, I thought in my head, ‘I’m better than this dude.' ”
Lee added that when he followed up, asking Garoppolo three times if he believed he was better than Brady, Garoppolo admitted he did.
“Yeah, you believe in yourself,” Garoppolo told Lee.
Lee then asked if Garoppolo had gone up to Brady and said he was better than him.
Answered Garoppolo: “I’m not stupid. You have to pick your battles, but I had belief in myself that I could do certain things, and it’s always worked out pretty well. It will always be in me, that drive that comes from my dad telling me that someone is always working harder, that I’m always in last place and I need to catch up to someone else.”
Since Garoppolo showed the NFL what he could do with the 49ers late last season, the Niners have become a pick by some analysts to compete for a playoff spot in 2018. Garoppolo has even been labeled by some as a QB who could vault into the ranks of the league’s elite by the end of this coming season.
In one area, however, Garoppolo is already there – and above Brady.
When NFLShop.com released its list of top jersey sales between April 1 and June 23 of this year, Garoppolo ranked No. 2 overall, behind only Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Brady was No. 4.