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There were a lot of questions surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after he signed a then-record-breaking five-year, $137.5-million contract to be the 49ers’ franchise quarterback after an entire career spent sitting behind six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
But none of them were coming from long-time Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
In fact, Gronk — now retired and part of FOX’s collection of NFL talking heads — said Sunday he knew well before the contract was signed and Jimmy G was leading the Niners to a 10-1 start to 2019 that the Eastern Illinois product was going to be “elite.”
The first moment Gronk called out — the Kansas City blowout — was actually a 41-14 blowout on Monday Night Football in Garoppolo’s rookie season. Jimmy G went 6-of-7 for 70 yards, with his lone touchdown pass coming to the Pats’ enigmatic ball-catcher.
The second moment, well, that’s a little less clear.
“Three weeks before he got traded, I ran a flag route, it was zone coverage the DB dropped, the safety was up top, and he put it exactly where he needed to put it, the only spot it needed to be to complete the ball,” he said. “It was money and I came up to him and I was like, ‘Dang dude, that was a nice pass.’ And that’s when I knew at that time that he was going to be elite.”
Thing is, Garoppolo didn’t complete a ball to Gronkowski in 2017. In fact, he didn’t even attempt a pass in the regular season (including in the three weeks ahead of the October trade that sent him to San Francisco).
Perhaps the pass Gronk was referring to happened during a practice.
Either way, Garoppolo has already started to live up to Gronkowsi’s high praise, punctuating Sunday night with a perfect QB rating and a thumping of a Green Bay team that had the second-best record in the NFC entering Sunday.
Garoppolo now sports a quarterback rating that puts him ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Jared Goff, and his 20 touchdown passes are good for fifth in the league.
Grant Marek is the Editorial Director of SFGATE. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @grant_marek
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Gronk-Jimmy-Garoppolo-Patriots-49ers-elite-14860769.php.