October 31, 2017, a day in which the quarterback position for the San Francisco 49ers changed for the better. The cost, a second round pick in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) draft to the New England Patriots. The 49ers have lacked a franchise quarterback since Steve Young (1988-1999) untimely retirement from the NFL in 1999 because of medical issues stemming from multiple concussions he received throughout his career. However, with Jimmy Garoppolo under center the 49ers now find themselves in a position to compete. Not only will they be competing, but they will be doing so with an elite quarterback under center and this is why.
Jimmy Garoppolo, a second round pick in the 2014 NFL draft for the New England Patriots, was by many tabbed to be the heir successor to New England’s legendary quarterback Tom Brady. Over the years Garoppolo received minimal time under center in New England. This changed in 2016 when Tom Brady was suspended for four games by the NFL for his role in Deflategate. Garoppolo was then named starting quarterback by head football coach Bill Belichick for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. In his first ever start for the New England Patriots he completed 24 of 33 passes, throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown in what many considered to be a major upset, at the time, over the Cardinals. In his week two start against the Miami Dolphins Garoppolo threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns before being sidelined with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. Over the remaining portion of the 2016/17 season and into the offseason rumors swirled around the Patriots trading Garoppolo. Ultimately, he remained on the New England roster as the backup quarterback until his eventual trade in October of 2017.
Jimmy Garoppolo finally made his debut with the 49ers during their week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks replacing an injured C.J. Beathard. He went on to throw a touchdown and rushed one time for four yards. The following week new head football coach Kyle Shanahan named Garoppolo the starter for the upcoming game against the Chicago Bears. He would go on to complete 26 of 37 passes for 293 yards and one interception. Garoppolo would finish the season as the starting quarterback for the 49ers.
To be clear Jimmy Garoppolo is not just any type of replacement to come in and start for the remaining five games of the NFL season. Tom Brady, over the same stretch of five games completed 106 of 173 passes (61% completion rate), threw for 1,203 yards (240.6 yards per game), six touchdowns and five interceptions. At the same time Kyle Shanahan’s old quarterback, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, completed 98 of 168 passes (58% completion rate), threw for 1,211 yards (242.2 yards per game), four touchdowns and four interceptions. Jimmy Garoppolo during the same five game stretch bested both Brady and Ryan. He completed 118 of 176 passes (67% completion rate), threw for 1,542 yards (308.4 per game), five touchdowns and four interceptions.
With that said, it makes a statistical case that Jimmy Garoppolo was a better quarterback over the last five games of the 2017 NFL regular season than both Brady and Ryan. As such, this is why I am of the opinion Garoppolo comes into the 2018/19 NFL season ranked amongst the top five quarterbacks in the league. When the dust settles, Jimmy Garoppolo will finish the season where he started, in the top five and will lead the San Francisco 49ers to a playoff run. This signals to me that Garoppolo will be a valuable piece to any fantasy football team this year and years to come.
Ben is the host of WP Fantasy Football. For more from Ben, check him out on twitter @fantasy_wp