The trade came after the Patriots resisted dealing Garoppolo during the offseason and after the team had traded Jacoby Brissett to the Colts, leaving them without a quarterback to groom behind Tom Brady. Wickersham quotes someone in the organization as saying “if we trade Jimmy, we’re the Cleveland Browns, with no succession plan,” but that’s reportedly what Patriots owner Robert Kraft asked Bill Belichick to do after meetings that featured Brady telling the owner he wants to play for several more years.
Per the article, Kraft and Belichick had a long meeting two weeks before the trade deadline that ended with Belichick getting a mandate to trade Garoppolo, something he didn’t want to do, and find another young quarterback to develop behind Brady. That reportedly left Belichick “furious and demoralized,” but he texted 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to open up dialogue that resulted in a deal.
That text may have been spurred by conversations Shanahan and Belichick had at the combine in February shortly after the Patriots came back from 28-3 down to beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Shanahan, who ran the Falcons offense in that game, reportedly wanted to learn from the loss from the guy who beat him and going that route may have helped him land Garoppolo as Belichick thought Shanahan would be a good fit for the quarterback.
That assessment looked correct once Garoppolo led the 49ers to five straight wins at the end of the season, a development that reportedly pleased Belichick much more than getting an edict from ownership about a football decision.