How legendary coach Bill Belichick saved the 49ers in 2017

Former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick traded a backup quarterback to the 49ers and ended up keeping the franchise relevant.
AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos
AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

On the spookiest day of the year in 2017, now-former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sent future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady's backup to the 49ers for their 2018 second-round selection.

The backup was Jimmy Garoppolo.

Many had thought Garoppolo was going to take over from Brady and lead the Pats in their quest to continue their dynasty. However, it seemed like Brady wasn't planning on retiring soon or leaving New England, so shipping Jimmy G to a desperate team was the better deal for Belichick.

The San Francisco 49ers, at the time of Garoppolo's arrival, were sitting at 1-10. The quarterback room consisted of C.J. Bethard and Brian Hoyer. Neither was going to be the future of the franchise, and neither gave the 49ers Faithful hope of a winning season again.

Niners fans who were around in the 1980s and 1990s were fortunate enough to see Joe Montana and Steve Young under center. The expectations of winning the Super Bowl were extremely high when both quarterbacks eventually left the franchise.

If they could win, any QB who came through should, too.

Fast forward a few decades. General manager John Lynch decides it's time to find the next franchise quarterback. More importantly, keep the fans coming back to Levi's Stadium.

Garoppolo immediately won over fans just by his looks. Then, he took the 49ers on a five-game winning streak to end the 2017 season to win over the whole fan base. After getting injured in 2018, Jimmy G led San Francisco on an eight-game win streak to begin 2019.

When Garoppolo played, the 49ers won. Due to injuries, however, his playing days were limited thus resulting in not being re-signed, and San Francisco moved on with Brock Purdy in 2022 and then fully in 2023, while Garoppolo signed a free-agent deal with the Las Vegas Raiders.

So, where would the franchise be without Belichick?

The 49ers could still be finding mid-tier quarterbacks in free agency. A lot of their core could be gone, like tight end George Kittle and EDGE Nick Bosa. They never would've traded for running back Christian McCaffery or left guard Trent Williams. Head coach Kyle Shanahan would probably be coaching another team.

Congratulations on a historic coaching career with New England, Bill Belichick. And, thank you for trading Jimmy G, which fully stabilized the Niners franchise.

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