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The Legend of Jimmy Garoppolo Knows No Bounds

He looks the part. He’s never lost an NFL start. It’s time to ask the question that every football fan in America is now wondering: Did the Patriots trade the greatest QB of all time for a future second-round pick?

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s resident sculptor needs to begin working on a Jimmy Garoppolo bust now. This might seem unusual considering that Garoppolo has made only five career starts, but then again, this will be no ordinary bust. This has to be the handsomest hunk of bronze that Canton has ever seen. The artist needs to get the award-winning stubble just right; someone needs to mine special metals to capture the sparkle of Garoppolo’s smile. It’ll be a while before the quarterback makes the Hall — at this point, we can safely project that Garoppolo will play another 12 to 15 seasons, winning between five to eight Super Bowls, and then there’s a five-year waiting period — but the statue needs to be as perfect as Jimmy. We can’t risk a Cristiano Ronaldo situation.

When the 49ers made a deal with the Patriots to get Garoppolo — now known as Jimmy GQ — just before the NFL trade deadline in October, San Francisco was gambling on an unknown. He’d made only two starts in his three-plus NFL seasons, spending most of his time on the sideline as Tom Brady’s highly regarded backup. Sure, he looked great in those two games — I mean, he always looks great, but he looked especially great then — yet it’s virtually impossible to project greatness from a two-game sample size.

But now Garoppolo has started three more games, and OMG, WE CAN DEFINITELY PROJECT GREATNESS. After all, he’s been perfect in every single way. He’s now 5–0 as a starter, the first quarterback to win his first five starts since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. It was one thing for Garoppolo to win two games for the Pats; New England went 12–2 and won the Super Bowl when Garoppolo wasn’t playing. For Garoppolo to suddenly begin winning games for the 49ers, though, who started the season 1–10 and had one of the worst offenses in the league before he started playing? Unreal.

Garoppolo has thrown for at least 293 yards in each of his 49ers starts, setting a franchise record for passing yards in a QB’s first three games. (Eat it, Joe Montana and Steve Young.) He’s averaging 8.92 yards per attempt, well ahead of any quarterback in the NFL this season. He’s thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions in his career, and one of those picks came on a pass that was in the hands of his intended receiver before a defender ripped it away. The 49ers have gone three-and-out only once in his three starts.

And Garoppolo has piloted game-winning drives in two of the three games. He was mic’d up in last Sunday’s 25–23 victory over the Titans, and, holy hell, listen to this:

Less than two months after getting traded to this team, he’s out here instructing wide receivers on the specific routes they need to run in the two-minute drill, and then hitting them on those exact routes to win the game. This is leadership porn.

Marquise Goodwin, the Niners wideout previously best known for being an Olympic long jumper, has enjoyed the best three games of his five-year career in the three weeks Garoppolo has been under center. His previous career high in receptions was six; he’s reeled in six, eight, and 10 catches, respectively, in Garoppolo’s three starts. Goodwin had recorded only two 100-yard games before Garoppolo took over in San Francisco; he’s had at least 99 receiving yards in his past three outings. Goodwin genuinely loves Garoppolo. He gave up his seat on a bus so Garoppolo could take it, and he believes there’s a connection between the QB’s play and his handsomeness:

And I’m inclined to agree. Garoppolo, as is plain to see, is the handsomest quarterback around. Quite frankly, Garoppolo has been the best QB in the NFL over these past three weeks, his first three as a full-time starter.

So now we apply the benefit of hindsight. If Garoppolo is truly as good at playing quarterback as he is at smiling, the Patriots are fools for letting him go in exchange for a measly second-round pick. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances: The Pats have Brady — a quarterback some have described as “Garoppoloesque” — and Garoppolo’s rookie contract is set to expire after this season. The 49ers now know they’ll have to pay him a near-infinite sum of money in the coming months, but the Pats would have been in a less clear scenario. If they hadn’t made a trade, Garoppolo could’ve walked this spring, and the team might have gotten nothing in return.

Still, in a quarterback-strapped league, New England gave up Garoppolo for a future second-rounder just months after also giving up Jacoby Brissett for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who has 12 catches this fall. How we remember those trades will come down to two main factors: how long Brady’s already historically improbable old-age performance can continue, and how good Brissett and Garoppolo look moving forward. Brissett looks as if he could emerge as a decent starter; Garoppolo looks damn near perfect. It seems impossible, but the Patriots might have made a mistake.

I am not the only person who believes that work should begin immediately on a Garoppolo sculpture.