San Francisco 49ers Spend Record Money on Quarterback

He's never played a full season as an NFL starter, but Jimmy Garoppolo has an incredible contract — and respect for America

What does it take to become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL?

Five great starts and respect for America.

That became the case last week when the San Francisco 49ers signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a record-setting, five-year, $137.5 million contract. Per season, Garoppolo is now the highest-paid player in NFL history per year ($27.5 million). He now outearns the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and other surefire future Hall of Famers.

At first, this may seem puzzling, since Garoppolo has never spent a full season as an NFL starter. However, a closer look indicates the 49ers got themselves a sound quarterback for the future, something they lacked over the past few seasons.

Garoppolo spent the majority of his career thus far as Brady’s backup for the New England Patriots before being traded to the 49ers midseason. There was no chance of his overtaking the starting role there, but he did in San Fran with ease. He turned its season around, going 5-0 in his starts to help the team finish the 2017 season at 6-10 (they were 1-10 before he was their starter).

In the process, Garoppolo completed 67.4 percent of his passes, threw seven touchdowns to just five interceptions, and posting an 80.6 QB, which was second to only DeShaun Watson among starting NFL quarterbacks this past season, according to ESPN.

The 49ers had a vacancy at quarterback this season because they were without Colin Kaepernick, who started the national anthem kneeling movement in 2016. That said, Garoppolo has Kaepernick’s incompetence and disrespect to thank for the opportunity to earn a lucrative contract.

Kaepernick had a six-year, $114 million contract with the 49ers that he signed in 2014, but he blew it. He opted out of his contract prior to the 2017 NFL season to avoid being cut during training camp for his incompetence. After all, he went 1-10 as a starter in 2016 and got benched twice in favor of Blaine Gabbert, who was the Arizona Cardinals third-string quarterback this past season.

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This is a major upgrade for the 49ers at quarterback because, according to USA Today’s The Lead, Kaepernick had 217 passing yards per start in 2016 while Garoppolo amassed over 308.4 per start — a higher average than even Tom Brady this season (286.1). This resulted in more scoring drives and better results for the 49ers under Garoppolo.

If this signing is any indication, it is that the 49ers were willing to spend big money on a good quarterback — like Garoppolo. They did not want a QB like Kaepernick who lost games, turned the ball over a lot (nine fumbles in 11 games in 2016), couldn’t throw deep, and helped drop the league’s ratings by over 15 percent in two seasons. They wanted someone who could help them win and not be a distraction. That’s exactly what Garoppolo adds to the team that Kaepernick could not provide. If you were wondering, here is Garoppolo’s take on the anthem kneelers.

“It’s not my idea of doing the right thing,” Garoppolo told WEEI back in 2016. “But it’s his personal opinion, I guess. You’ve just got to let him stand by that. But I think we have a great thing going on in this country. Everything about America — it’s a great thing. We’re all very blessed to be here — and it’s good to realize that.”

Related: Nick Foles, Super Bowl MVP: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Here Without God in My Life’

Garoppolo learned under arguably the greatest coach and quarterback in NFL history (Bill Belichick and Tom Brady) for nearly four seasons. Now he has the opportunity to make his own legacy on the west coast. He also gives the 49ers an opportunity to help repair their image. If they have players who win and not whine over things that have been debunked, then people might take an interest in them.

As for Kaepernick, he can keep retweeting all of the Shaun King and anti-Garoppolo tweets he wants, but it’s not going to land him a job in the NFL.

It does not change the fact that the market for subpar veteran quarterbacks who attract negative attention and retweet negative things about the NFL and its players is nil.

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.