49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo believed he was better than Tom Brady

As part of their series on the “B/R Power 50,” Bleacher Report got the first extended interview with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo since Garoppolo entered the NFL 2014, and of course, there was a lot of talk about Garoppolo’s relationship with Tom Brady.

Garoppolo was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round, and was immediately Brady’s backup, but given that the Patriots had never drafted a quarterback as high as they had drafted Garoppolo (he was taken 62nd overall) during Bill Belichick’s long tenure with the team, he was also seen as Brady’s successor.

But last October, with Brady still playing at an MVP level and Garoppolo coming up on the end of his rookie contract, New England traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round pick; Belichick had a better trade offer from the Cleveland Browns, but felt the 49ers would be a better situation for Garoppolo.

While he was with the Patriots, Garoppolo said precious little, save for the two games he was the starter when Brady was serving his suspension for deflate-gate; then, Garoppolo did the customary weekly news conference. Backup quarterbacks in New England are to be seen and not heard.

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Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo
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Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22: Tom Brady #12 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots run onto the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JUNE 17: The New England Patriots held a minicamp at the practice field at Gillette Stadium. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo kick their legs up during warmups. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
June 19, 2014: Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo (10) tosses a pass under the watchful eye of Tom Brady (12). The New England Patriots held their Mini Camp at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
RICHMOND VA, AUGUST 4: New England quarterback Tom Brady (12), left, fires off a pass as back up quarterback's Ryan Mallett (15), center, and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) wait their turn during day 12 of the Washington Redskins training camp practicing with the New England Patriots in Richmond VA, August 4, 2014. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo head on to the field for pre-game warm-ups before they played the Kansas City Chiefs on September 29, 2014. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 5: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, Matthew Slater and Jimmy Garoppolo warm up before the game between the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014 at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots take the field prior to Super Bowl XLVIII at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 30: Quarterbacks Tom Brady #12 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots take the field for warm ups to the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2014 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Patriots 26-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
February 4, 2015: The Patriots quarterback tandem, Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady. The New England Patriots paraded through the streets of Boston to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
27 DEC 2015: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) prior to the game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 3: Quarerbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady hung out after practice to work together on some long passes. The New England Patriots continued their Training Camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on August 3, 2016. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 29: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, and Jimmy Garoppolo managed smile as they were back at it during passing drills on the second day of New England Patriots training camp at the practice fields at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on July 29, 2016. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 9: Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talk on the sidelines during the final minutes of the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Patriots defeated the Browns 33-13. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills on October 30, 2016 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. New England defeats Buffalo 41-25. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots warm up before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 5: Jimmy Garoppolo congratulates Tom Brady after the Patriots' win. The Atlanta Falcons play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots during the Victory Parade through the streets of Boston on February 7, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate winning Super Bowl LI. (Photo by Richard Cashin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 28: New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett run an agility course during the second day of training camp at the Gillette Stadium practice field in Foxborough, Mass., July 28, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 31: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 react before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25, 2017: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 prior to a preseason game on August 25, 2017 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. New England won 30-28. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22: Tom Brady #12 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots walk through the tunnel before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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‘I had belief in myself’

The story, of course, chronicles Garopplo’s rise, from his days as a youth football player when he turned down the opportunity to play quarterback because one of his best friends at the time, Dan Lowry, was the quarterback and didn’t want to take Lowry’s job.

Garoppolo didn’t become a quarterback until his junior year of high school, and ended up at FCS Eastern Illinois on the recommendation of private coach Jeff Christensen. It was Christensen who showed Garoppolo video of NFL quarterbacks, wanting to break him of the long release Garoppolo had thanks to his time as a baseball player. Garoppolo gravitated toward the film of Brady.

As fate had it, on the night of the second round of the 2014 draft, the Patriots selected Garoppolo, and he became teammates with the man he’d been studying for years. Garoppolo told writer Joon Lee he wanted to stay out of Brady’s way, absorbing whatever he could “without being an annoyance.”

But unseating Brady became Garoppolo’s motivation.

“I 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.”

The third of four boys, Garoppolo said that as a kid, whenever he was playing against his brothers, he always believed he’d win. It didn’t always happen, but he always believed he’d win. It was the same with Brady.

“When I first got [to New England], I thought in my head, ‘I’m better than this dude.'”

Lee pressed him on the notion several times, that Garoppolo really believes he’s better than the quarterback that’s won five Super Bowls, been to eight, and is regarded by many as the greatest quarterback in the history of the league.

“It was always a quiet confidence. I would never speak that,” Garoppolo said.

‘We got along, but there were times we wanted to kill each other’

While Garoppolo said he tried to stay out of Brady’s way, the two of course spent a lot of time together at the team facility, in meetings and on the practice field. In recent years, Patriots’ quarterbacks would occasionally play the “bucket game,” trying to get passes into a trash can in the corner of the end zone from roughly 20 yards away.

Both intensely competitive, the game would lead to the two not talking to each other for a little bit, but Garoppolo said all would be fine the next day.

As Garoppolo notes, they pushed each other. And Brady certainly was a beneficiary: not that he’s ever been a slouch, but Brady’s been perhaps playing some of the best football of his career in recent seasons, despite his advanced (for football) age.

“The competitiveness between the two of us was very similar. If I’m playing my best friend in one-on-one basketball, 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. It was a healthy, competitive relationship.”

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Jimmy Garoppolo with the San Francisco 49ers
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Jimmy Garoppolo with the San Francisco 49ers
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up before the regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks on during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks on from the sidelines during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks back to the locker room during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers looks over plays on his wristband in the locker room prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 5, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 20-10. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up with the football prior to the start of an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 05: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up with the football on the sidelines during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers enters the game late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks late in their NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. The Seahawks won the game 24-13. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Is Garoppolo the new Vincent Chase?

Just as there’s a lot of talk about Garoppolo the player, there’s also a lot about Garoppolo the matinee idol (His Patriots teammates once had his name placard over his locker stall changed to “Prince Aladdin,” because Garoppolo does bear a resemblance to the Disney hero. But once media saw the joke, it was taken down).

Garoppolo used to watch the HBO hit “Entourage,” with his roommate at Eastern Illinois, and now Garoppolo’s crew are realizing that they have become Turtle and Eric and Johnny Drama, the guys along for the ride as Vincent Chase, or in their case, Garoppolo, rises to stardom.

Earlier this year, Garoppolo and his crew reunited in Las Vegas, and fans were lined up for selfies with Garoppolo. Garoppolo passed, because he knew that 10 would become 20 would become 200. But at a nightclub, rapper Lil Uzi Vert performed one song on the stage and the rest of his set on top of the table Garoppolo and crew were sitting at.

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