Bill Belichick has continually made it clear he’s not afraid to trade away players when the return is right. On Monday night, he proved it once more, with a shocker of a trade. The Patriots shipped homegrown quarterback prospect Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for San Francisco’s original 2018 second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Schefter also reported that the 49ers will release veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer.
“Jimmy is a player we have researched extensively since Kyle [Shanahan] and I joined the 49ers,” general manager John Lynch said. “I am extremely pleased this came together today and we all think it is a big win for our organization.”
The next day, Hoyer signed a three-year deal with the Patriots.
How did this trade happen? Trade rumors have surrounded Tom Brady’s backup ever since he started two games for the Patriots last year. However, things had been quiet this season.
But with Brady still playing at a high level even at age 40, and Garoppolo set to be a free agent after this season, Belichick thought it was time to move on.
“We probably had, in my opinion, the best quarterback situation in the league for the last — let’s call it two-and-a-half years,” Belichick said. “It’s just not sustainable given the way that things are set up.”
This offseason, some thought Garoppolo’s time in Foxborough was over when a message on his Instagram account said, “So grateful for my time in New England. Peace out Boston." Don Yee, Garoppolo’s agent, said the quarterback’s Instagram account was hacked, and Garoppolo deleted the post.
Instead of ending up with the Browns, Garoppolo lands with the NFL’s other currently winless team. The 49ers desperately need a quarterback, and while they were expected to go after Kirk Cousins during free agency, that ship appears to have sailed.
What does this mean for the 49ers? The 49ers are 0-8 this season, largely because of quarterback play. Hoyer was named the starter at the beginning of the season, and he averaged 207 yards per game and threw four touchdowns and four picks. He was benched after six games for rookie C.J. Beathard, whose stats were actually worse than Hoyer’s. Beathard had 215 yards per game, but threw three picks and just two touchdowns over three games.
Garoppolo gave the 49ers confidence that he can outperform both Hoyer and Beathard with his brief experience filling in for Brady during his Deflategate suspension last season.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has had his eye on Garoppolo for a while.
Browns asked then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to rank available QBs in 2014 draft.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 31, 2017
His ranks? 1. Carr. 2. Garoppolo. 3. The rest.
What does this mean for the Patriots? New England has shipped away the passer who started two games in Brady’s absence early in 2016, keeping him on the roster to back up the former two-time league MVP.
The Patriots also traded away Jacoby Brissett to the Colts right before the season started. Brissett filled in for Brady last season after Garoppolo was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Brissett is now starting in Indianapolis.
That left New England without a single quarterback on its roster other than Brady after the Garoppolo trade. Hoyer, who backed up Brady from 2009-11, now returns to the place where he started his NFL career.
Last season, Garoppolo posted a stellar 117.0 rating while completing 70 percent of his passes and throwing four touchdowns without a single interception. He led New England to an opening night win over Arizona on the road before pushing the team to a 24-3 halftime lead against Miami. He exited that game with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.
Now, he’ll be Shanahan’s latest project and will finally get a chance to keep a starting job.