I love seeing how the San Francisco 49ers players themselves are buying into the hype surrounding quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo because his emergence is one of the best stories in the 2017 NFL season.
Free agent players like running back Carlos Hyde want to return to the 49ers, sharing dreams of Super Bowl sugar plum fairies, as Garoppolo is now the hottest draw in the league.
And veterans like left tackle Joe Staley claim that Garoppolo is making “football fun again,” according to NFL.com columnit Michael Silver, while saying that Garoppolo has “everything” to do with that sentiment.
“It's exciting, man,” Staley told Silver after the 49ers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 16. “I was telling our offensive line coach, I wish it was Week 6. I can't wait -- next year's gonna be pretty special. Now the pressure's on the rest of us: We can't [screw] it up!”
Staley also said that he heard the “MVP” chants for Garoppolo from the 49ers fans and that he “can't wait to hear those chants for real next year.”
“It's like having Tom Brady,” Staley said about playing with Garoppolo, before adding, “I don't know. I never played with him. But it feels like it would be. And after where we've been, trust me, we'll take it.”
While Garoppolo is still a long ways away from being Tom Brady, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is saying that Garoppolo’s enthusiasm and ability “has rubbed off on everyone,” and that everyone has really stepped up their play since the arrival of Garoppolo. That’s what a franchise quarterback does for everyone else in the building.
Even Brady himself is impressed with what Garoppolo has accomplished (and thankful for the help in the playoff seeding).
“He’s done a great job," Brady said about Garoppolo on WEEI. "It was good to see and good for them to beat Jacksonville, that really helped us. I am really happy for Jimmy and he’s worked really hard. It shows up when he goes out there and plays really well.”
Garoppolo has one more game for the 49ers in 2017 and is looking at a monster contract extension in the coming months. Garoppolo saved football for San Francisco and he’s making football fun again for more than just the 49ers veterans.