Jimmy Garoppolo believed he was ‘better than’ Tom Brady

Jimmy Garoppolo was never going to kiss Tom Brady’s rings.

The 49ers starting quarterback gave some insight into his time as Brady’s backup with the Patriots for three-plus seasons in a long feature story with Bleacher Report as part of its “B/R Power 50” series.

Garoppolo was drafted in the second round by New England in 2014 — ultimately starting just two games for the the Patriots while Brady served his 2016 Deflategate suspension.

As a rookie, he took the approach of wanting to watch Brady and “absorb” everything he could “without being an annoyance.” However, Garoppolo’s focus was on doing what he could to eventually unseat Brady, fully believing he could do so.

“I’ve always had that mindset,” Garoppolo said. “I knew that [Brady] was better than me in my first day in the NFL. Naturally, you’re the rookie and he’s the veteran, but you have to have that mindset, that you want to be the starter.”

He compared it to playing with your brothers and always believing you could win — even if you sometimes didn’t — and described his mindset as a “quiet confidence” that he would never speak of.

“It’s like when I go to New England, when I first got there, I thought in my head, ‘I’m better than this dude,’ ” Garoppolo said of Brady.

Garoppolo said he studied Brady after he shifted from linebacker to quarterback in his junior year of high school. When seeing film of the now five-time Super Bowl champion, he realized, “OK, that’s how I should throw.”

The two developed a relationship Garoppolo described as healthy and competitive. They pushed each other like playing your “best friend in one-on-one basketball.” They would often play a game based on throwing footballs into trash cans in the corner of the end zone from around 20 yards away, and it would lead to days where, “You wouldn’t talk to the other for a little while,” but be fine the next day.

“If we are both into it, by the end, we are going to hate each other,” Garoppolo said. “That’s how it is. All the good competitors have that. We got along, but there were always times where we wanted to kill each other.”

Garoppolo was surprisingly traded to San Francisco this past October. ESPN reported the deal was a result of a power struggle going on inside the Patriots between Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, which the Patriots have denied. Garoppolo, who was coming to the end of his rookie contract, went on to lead the 49ers to a 5-0 record in the games he started with a 96.2 passer rating. The Niners signed him to a five-year, $137.5 million contract.

“It would’ve been cool to play for Belichick and do that stuff and be in that system once Brady retires, but he didn’t want to wait,” new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told Bleacher Report. “That’s the guy you want.”

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