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McGinley: Patriots officially won the Jimmy Garoppolo trade

| Tuesday, February 4, 2020

On a cold Halloween morning in 2017, there was an abnormally large storm for Oct. 31 bearing down on Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Within the stadium the night before, there had been a similar caliber storm brewing. The New England Patriots had to decide what to do with their stellar quarter back who was undeniably growing older and his less stellar but still talented backup. Despite the upset sky and nervous fans, the next morning Bill Belichick and The Patriots made the right call. 

The evening of Oct. 30, 2017, Belichick and his team of coaches made the decision to stick with Tom Brady, who had already taken them so far. Ultimately sending Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for their 2018 second round draft pick which the Pats then used to strengthen their defense with Duke Dawson, who now plays cornerback for the Denver Broncos.

This decision left Patriots fans with so many questions. How good is Jimmy G? Was this the right decision? What if Brady gets injured? And most importantly, how long can he really stay? These questions quickly dissipated though as the Patriots won the 2017 Super Bowl, made it to the 2018 Super Bowl and won again in the 2019 Super Bowl.

It wasn’t until this year that those questions truly rose to the surface. Brady’s experience sometimes got in the way this year as he would predict situations, usually right, but sometimes too early. With receivers new to the team, and Rob Gronkowski gone to top it off, Pats fans got to wondering yet again: Should we have kept Jimmy when we had the chance? The question was important especially since his team has made it so far this year with him at the helm.

The answer is in this year’s stats: No. 

This year, the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl after a 13-3 season, a season which was ultimately weaker than many. They played the Cardinals, who ultimately finished 5-10-1, twice, and they lost to the Falcons, who were 5-9 at the time. Some of the other wins through the season consisted of the Browns, the Buccaneers, the Bengals, and the Steelers, all of whom had less than stellar seasons. The highest scoring win the 49ers had was a 51-17 triumph over the Panthers, not entirely holding a candle to the regular season wins of the Baltimore Ravens or even the Kansas City Chiefs.

So then, how did they make it to the Super Bowl?

In the playoffs, one piece of the team took the season in stride and literally ran with it. The run game. In the 49ers’ NFC Divisional game against the Vikings, Garoppolo went 11/19 in completions for a total of 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His running backs, however, ran for 186 yards combined and Tevin Coleman had two touchdowns. With a strong defense to back them, that sufficed.

Then in the NFC Championship game, Garoppolo threw eight times for six completions and no touchdowns. He again left the game to his running backs who ran for 285 total yards, and running back Raheem Mostert had four touchdowns on the night with the defense behind him yet again.

And then, in the Super Bowl, Garoppolo attempted to create more opportunities and have a more active role in his offense, but he just could not get the job done. He went 20/31 with 219 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. That’s not the greatest night. Because he took more attempts, there was less time for the running game and the defense could only make so many stops.

So all in all, to any stressed out Pats fans: Take a breath. Jimmy G was no great loss. Though the 49ers had a great season, it was less because of Jimmy Garoppolo and more in spite of him. Plus, as we learned from his commercial, Tom Brady’s not going anywhere. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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