The San Francisco 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL this season, and that’s in large part thanks to their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with the team’s rock-solid defense, Garoppolo has been the team’s guiding force in his first full season as a starter. But what some may not realize is that the foundation for Garoppolo’s success started well before his pro or college career. It started with his Italian family.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s path to the NFL
Garoppolo played his college football for Eastern Illinois University. Garoppolo won the 2013 Walter Payton Award, the prize given to the top Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) player in the nation.
Garoppolo’s senior season was particularly memorable. In 14 games played he completed 375 passes on 568 attempts for a completion percentage of 66%. He threw for 53 touchdowns and 5,050 yards with only nine interceptions.
His 53 touchdown passes were only three short of the all-time record, giving him the fourth-highest total in history. His 5,050 passing yards were the second-highest total of all time. Only two players in FCS history have thrown for over 5,000 yards.
At the NFL Combine, Garoppolo received a prospect score of 5.38 with NFL.com projecting him for the third or fourth round. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds, completed the three-cone drill in 7.04 seconds (making him one of the top performers in that category), had a vertical jump of 30.5 inches and a broad jump of 11 inches.
He was then drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft with the 62nd pick in the second round.
Jimmy Garoppolo arrived in New England understanding his role — as the backup to the legendary Tom Brady. He saw minimal action in his first two seasons. In his third year, he started two games in relief of a suspended Brady. He played well, winning both games for the Pats while throwing four touchdowns.
In 2017, New England traded Garoppolo to San Francisco where he signed a hefty extension to become the new starter. He started the team’s last five games, leading them to a 5-0 record.
Expectations were high heading into 2018, which made it that much more disappointing when he went down with an injury after only three games. Garoppolo has played well this season, leading the team to a 10-1 record through 11 games.
Here are Garoppolo’s career numbers:
- Win-loss record of 18-3
- Completion percentage of 67%
- 5,699 passing yards
- 37 touchdowns
- 18 interceptions
How Jimmy Garoppolo’s Italian roots are the foundation of his sweet family
The roots of Garoppolo’s success starts with his family and his brothers Tony, Mike, and Billy as well as his sister Kathy. Garoppolo’s parents Tony and Jane are first-generation Americans whose families grew up in Italy. Prior to being drafted in 2014, Garoppolo reflected on how his family’s closeness affected him before his big day:
“My Nana – we call her Nana, actually, it’s Italian – was texting me right before this wishing me luck,” Jimmy Garoppolo said. “It’s my mom’s birthday coming up, so we’re going to get together as a family. It’s a rare thing that we get everyone together, so when we get the opportunity, it’s awesome.”
This is a connection Garoppolo has maintained during his time with San Francisco. Last season while rehabbing his knee, Garoppolo and his Dad hosted a signing day for 100 high school students who were becoming skilled trade workers. The event doubled as a way to honor his father’s 40-year career.
When one looks at Garoppolo’s current success, it’s not hard to see where it comes from. Garoppolo’s support from his loving family. They supported him through a record-setting career at the NCAA level and now as he attempts to become a franchise quarterback in San Francisco.