When the 49ers swung a deal with the New England Patriots at the trade deadline back in 2017, this is exactly what they envisioned.
A franchise quarterback, a leader, a winner.
Jimmy Garoppolo was undefeated, a perfect 7-0 as a starter with both the Patriots (2-0) and 49ers (5-0), prior to his first full year as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The year was September 9, 2018- week one, 49ers at Minnesota.
The result? A 24-16 Vikings win and Garoppolo’s first ever career loss.
With the exception of a couple of plays, it was brutal. Garoppolo didn’t look very good. He finished 15 of 33 for 261 yards, one beautiful touchdown pass, and three interceptions, including a pick six, and the final one to end the game. But that was a year ago. Garoppolo was playing with an injury riddled team and no major weapons through the air (this was the year George Kittle broke out).
A year later, the 49ers are 13-3, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and a team that faced probably the toughest three game stretch in NFL history and won two of three games. They beat the No. 2, 3, and 5th seed in the NFC, and went toe-to-toe with the best team in football, Baltimore, and lost by a field goal.
During the second half of the season, Garoppolo really took charge of a team hurting on both sides of the ball and lead three come from behind wins, including overcoming double digit leads at New Orleans and against the Rams. He was an efficient 18 of 22 for 285 yards in his first ever game at Seattle, with an average completion of 13 yards a pass, his best of the season.
So now the stage is set. This is what the 49ers have longed for in quite a while. They made a deal just for this moment, for this type of atmosphere, for this type of season. They needed a leader, a quarterback, a winner, and they believed they got one when they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Saturday is his first of what the 49ers and their fans hope, is many, many, many, playoff appearances and eventually, Lombardi trophies.