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Sunday NFL Thoughts: What the 49ers loved about Jimmy Garoppolo, the future of Bill Belichick’s family

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The Patriots could have Bill Belichick at the helm for a few more years.

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

1. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer spoke with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to write down the entire Jimmy Garoppolo saga, from Shanahan’s first interest, to the New England Patriots’ first rejection of the trade offer, to the actual trade, and to the recent contract extension.

Shanahan explained what he liked about Garoppolo as a player, while comparing the quarterback to Tom Brady, Tony Romo, and Aaron Rodgers.

“The balance he has, that he can make any throw with just the torque of his upper body, when it’s like that, that means you don’t have to block perfectly, he doesn’t need much room to throw,” Shanahan said. “He doesn’t really have to hitch into a big throw. He can sit in there flat-footed like a Juggs machine and just shoot it out at any time. And he’s got as quick a release as you imagine.

“He can sit in the pocket and let a play develop and not have to move around a ton, because he can just torque his upper body and do it. [Tony] Romo is a very similar guy, when you paint that picture. Tom Brady is very similar, he’s just slower twitch. Aaron Rodgers is like that. Anybody who torque with their upper body and make these throws, they don’t need the same pocket everyone else does.”

This is a great way to think about a quarterback’s throwing motion. The faster and tighter the quarterback can release the ball, the more freedom the offense gets with the pocket and space behind the offensive line.

The Patriots aren’t married to the idea of a quick-release quarterback as both Ryan Mallett and Jacoby Brissett have much longer motions than Garoppolo, but it’s something to think about when scouting quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

2. The first time the 49ers expressed interest in Garoppolo was during the 2017 NFL Combine and they were quickly rebuffed.

“I remember asking Bill [Belichick] personally down at the combine about Jimmy, and very quickly he told me that wasn’t a possibility,” Shanahan said. “So we moved on from that. He told me he wasn’t going to trade him.”

Belichick wasn’t going to trade Garoppolo before the start of the 2017 season until he saw how Tom Brady was playing in his age-40 season and once Brady passed with flying colors, Belichick had the green light to trade Garoppolo. He only called the 49ers and gave a low enough offer that Shanahan said “it took a grand total of 10 minutes” to accept the trade.

The compensation the Patriots received was not dissimilar to what they received from the Kansas City Chiefs for Matt Cassel, but I still think there should’ve been a conditional pick included in the trade. If the 49ers made the playoffs in either 2018 or 2019 they should have to send the Patriots an extra 2020 second round pick, or something of that nature. Belichick clearly didn’t push for the maximum return on the trade.

3. ESPN’s Mike Reiss has an interesting take on the Patriots reaching an extension with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. In his view, the deal with McDaniels extends Bill Belichick’s window of leadership with the team.

The most common interpretation of McDaniels’ extension is that it starts the end game for Belichick and the Patriots as McDaniels wouldn’t turn down a head coaching position with the Indianapolis Colts without receiving future consideration for the same job in New England.

But McDaniels’ deal apparently doesn’t have any guarantees that he’ll take over when Belichick retires and Reiss seems to think that Belichick could coach the Patriots longer now than he would have before.

Belichick cares greatly about his legacy in New England and with the NFL and now he has the front runner to be his heir- which is almost as important as finding the heir to Tom Brady.

4. I could see Belichick sticking around for three major reasons: 1) He wants to find the heir to Brady so the Patriots are set up for long after he’s gone; 2) He has 278 career wins and needs 70 more to take over the top spot from Don Shulal and 3) His sons are both coaches on the staff and he could want to see them more entrenched.

Belichick will have multiple chances to secure Brady’s eventual replacement over the next two years. Brian Hoyer’s contract is specifically set up so the Patriots back-up quarterback is set for the next two seasons, either by Hoyer himself or by a quarterback Belichick deems prepared to take over as back-up. Either way, Belichick will want to have this resolved over the next two years.

Belichick has also averaged 14.1 wins per season with Tom Brady at quarterback (2001-07 and 2009-present) and will need exactly five more seasons at that pace to overtake Shula atop the list. Belichick respects the history of the game enough to know where he stands and I can see him sticking around if he’s just a year or two away from taking it, as I could also see him promoting McDaniels to assistant head coach to smooth over the transition.

And his sons will both be secure if McDaniels becomes head coach because it would be a major shock if they lost their jobs.

5. Steve Belichick is already the Patriots safeties coach and is about to enter his seventh season as a coach with the team. He was a defensive assistant for four seasons and has been the safeties coach for the past two seasons.

If Brian Flores receives the promotion to defensive coordinator, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve were moved to the vacated linebacker role since both Brendan Daly and Josh Boyer have coached the defensive line and defensive backs, respectively, for roughly the past decade. Steve Belichick seems like a strong choice to be next-in-line for defensive coordinator if Flores leaves for a head coaching job in a few years.

Brian Belichick’s career is likely what Bill Belichick is waiting to see become more secure. Brian is in his first season as an assistant coach after one season as a scout. Steve was an assistant coach for four seasons and most Patriots assistants remain in their role for three seasons before receiving the promotion to a positional job. That means Brian could have two or three more years before he receives a promotion.

With Josh McDaniels staying in New England on a long-term deal, and Jerry Schuplinski and Joe Judge staying too, there isn’t an obvious opening on the horizon. Cole Popovich is the heir to Dante Scarnecchia (almost 70 years old), but other than Ivan Fears (63 years old) no one is close to retirement.

The only openings I could see happening over the next five years would be if Flores is hired as a head coach somewhere else and if Chad O’Shea or Jerry Schuplinski receive an opportunity to be an offensive coordinator. Brian might have to wait a little bit of time for his chance- and that could mean Bill Belichick sticks around, too.