02/09/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2018 17:13
It's OK to admit it.
When John Lynch asked for your patience in January, you braced yourself for a waiting game that could have lasted months. There was no certain outcome in the Jimmy Garoppolo contract talks, and Lynch assured you that those conversations would happen behind closed doors. You weren't likely to hear progress reports, positive or otherwise.
Could the San Francisco 49ers general manager secure a long-term deal before free agency? Would the team be forced to use the franchise tag? Those were both valid questions.
A degree of trepidation was warranted. If you've learned anything as a fan of the NFL, it's that contract talks are rarely simple (especially when discussing franchise quarterback money) and seldom come to a swift conclusion.
And yet, just four days into the official NFL offseason, the 49ers and Garoppolo agreed to a five-year contract extension. On Friday, the quarterback made it abundantly clear why his deal came to fruition so quickly.
'I knew I wanted to be here,' Garoppolo said at a press conference sandwiched between his head coach and GM. 'I knew I wanted to get this deal done as fast as possible. … I'm happy we got it done as fast as we did.'
You can almost feel the collective exhale from Lynch (who just completed his first major signing), Kyle Shanahan and 49ers fans alike. Because quite frankly, Garoppolo could have waited. As I attempted to explain on Thursday, everyone would have understood if Garoppolo stalled until the Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees dominoes fell first.
So what made Garoppolo so sure that San Francisco was the place he wanted to plant his flag? A coaching staff led by the offensive-minded Shanahan didn't hurt. Neither did the five-game winning streak to close out the 2017 season. But the quarterback's overarching theme was the vibe in the building from the day he arrived in late October. Even as an 0-8 football team at the time, there was clear evidence that something positive was in the works.
'It was a number of things,' Garoppolo said. 'The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here. The coaching staff, between Kyle and (quarterbacks coach) Rich (Scangarello), it was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that.
'We had some success down the stretch and you could see that the pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.'
What's the old marketing catch phrase? It's 'Location, location, location,' I believe. Garoppolo left behind a snowstorm in Chicago to be greeted by the 75-degree California sunshine. A healthy dose of Vitamin D - in February no less - isn't a bad selling point, either.
'There are other factors that go into (this decision), too,' Garoppolo joked about the Bay Area's balmy winter weather, earning a laugh out of everyone in the Levi's® Stadium auditorium.
Garoppolo's play to close out 2017 put the entire country on notice. His 1,560 passing yards, seven touchdowns and 5-0 record passed did more than pass the eye test. It validated the 49ers belief that they'd found their guy. Now with a franchise quarterback in place, San Francisco still has nearly $80 million in cap space to pursue other pieces.
Lynch said on Friday that he wants San Francisco to be a destination for free agents, and there's little doubt that players will be eager to join the 49ers when the new league year begins on March 14. Garoppolo told KNBR that he's already received a few texts from players around the NFL.
'That's kind of how this whole thing works,' Garoppolo told the Gary and Larry Show. 'Guys reach out to other guys more than coaches or executives. Just in the last 48 hours, to be honest, I've had texts and messages from guys. They're excited about it. Why wouldn't you want to be here? We're a young, up and coming team with a phenomenal coaching staff. It's an exciting time out here in the Bay Area, and hopefully a lot of guys want to experience that, too.'
NFL Network's Peter Schrager said Friday morning that the 49ers hype train has officially left the station. With Garoppolo locked up, there's no reason to believe that the national sentiment surrounding San Francisco will diminish anytime soon.
It was just one calendar year ago when Lynch and Shanahan signed matching six-year contracts. That's when they made their first plea for patience as they began what most expected to be a multi-year rebuild. That dreaded 'R' word feels passé already. San Francisco's new regime continues to reward those who have put their faith in the process. Garoppolo is the latest dividend. He isn't likely to be the last.