SANTA CLARA — What is 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo really like, and what did his former team, the New England Patriots, really think about him?
Here are Boston Globe Patriots reporter Ben Volin, and Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges (formerly of the Oakland Tribune), who covered Garoppolo at the Patriots. Each answered the same five questions.
1. What kind of guy is Garoppolo?
Volin: “He’s a nice kid from a nice middle-class background in Chicago. When they drafted him, I went out there and went to his house and met his family. Real nice parents. He’s got some brothers. Good upbringing.”
Borges: “Very pleasant. Nice guy. Popular. Very good with kids and people in general. I don’t think he’s a bloodthirsty guy or a backstabbing guy. He made the best of what had to become a hard situation over time. You have to remember, he’s 26. It’s not like he’s a little kid. How many more years was he going to sit?”
2. How did Garoppolo act in the locker room?
Volin: “Really easy to deal with. Whenever I’d be like, ‘Hey Jimmy, you got a second?’ he always did. And he’d sit there and answer our dumb questions about how frustrating it is not to play. I really enjoyed working with him.”
Borges: “He was pretty good in a difficult circumstance. He came in and he knew he was not only not going to play, but in a short period of time realized he was not even going to practice, because Brady wouldn’t let him take snaps. And that’s hard to swallow after a while.
“But Garoppolo never was sour one day. Last year when they did let him play, Brady didn’t like it even though he was suspended for four games. And that’s typical of him. I thought Garoppolo did a good job of putting the best face on what, after a while, had to be kind of a pain in the ass.”
3. Do players like Garoppolo?
Volin: “We only get limited interaction with them, but he was in a cluster with Brady and the receivers and (quarterback Jacoby) Brissett. All those guys got along. They would do a bros trip to the Kentucky Derby and Garoppolo was on the trip with Brady and Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman and those guys. I think generally everyone in the locker room liked Jimmy and respected him.”
Borges: “I know they did like him overall, but they didn’t like the fact that he didn’t last two games before he basically wouldn’t play with an AC issue in his shoulder. And we can debate whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea, but Jacoby Brissett went in and tore a thumb ligament in his throwing hand and kept playing. I know quite frankly it privately bothered some of Garoppolo’s teammates that he didn’t keep going.”
4. How did Garoppolo get along with Brady?
Volin: “They got along well. They competed like crazy. Every day in practice, they were competing at something — hit the cone, throw it in the basket, whatever. And Jimmy wouldn’t just lay down. They’d compete.
“But this notion that Tom took him under his wing I think is way overblown. I don’t think Tom was like, ‘Come here, Jimmy, let me show you how it’s done.’ I think Jimmy sat in the meeting rooms with him and watched and served and learned a lot that way.