Jimmy Garoppolo's roots in New England run deep. Bill Belichick drafted and developed the quarterback before trading him to the 49ers in the middle of the 2017 season.
Garoppolo's return to Gillette Stadium was an emotional one for him, but the outcome never was in doubt as the 49ers rolled to a 33-6 win. After handing Belichick the biggest home loss of his Patriots career, Garoppolo met offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Belichick on the field for some postgame pleasantries.
His quick conversation with McDaniels was relatively innocuous but might raise a few eyeballs.
Here's the brief exchange between Garoppolo and his old offensive coordinator.
McDaniels: I’ll stay in touch.
Garoppolo: Yeah, no doubt, man.
McDaniels: All right. Good luck.
Garoppolo: Good luck the rest of the way, Josh.
McDaniels: Thanks, you too
Of course, the most logical explanation is that the two are old friends and probably chat semi-regularly. But there's the alternative read-in which could suggest McDaniels and Garoppolo would like to team up together in the future, whether that be in New England or elsewhere.
The 49ers' commitment to Garoppolo has been in question ever since his poor fourth quarter in Super Bowl LIV. Garoppolo hasn't taken the expected leap to start this season and coach Kyle Shanahan has schemed the 49ers to two straight wins, asking Garoppolo to manage the game and mostly complete passes behind or close-to-the line of scrimmage.
The Patriots find themselves in quarterback purgatory after Tom Brady's departure. Cam Newton currently is the starting quarterback, but he hasn't played well since Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks and is on a one-year deal. There has been some speculation that Garoppolo could return to the Patriots next season should the 49ers decide to cut bait with him after the year and find a different signal-caller with a higher ceiling.
McDaniels has been a hot name on the coaching market for years, but the interest has fallen off a bit since he took the Indianapolis Colts job and then backed out following the 2017 season. If McDaniels does get another shot to be a head coach, perhaps he would want Garoppolo as his trigger man.
But, as is normally the case, the simplest explanation is probably the likely one. When in doubt, always remember Occam's Razor.
As for Garoppolo's exchange with Belichick, the Patriots coach, as usual, wasn't too chatty.
Belichick: All right, hell of a game.
Garoppolo: Good to see you.
Belichick: Yeah, you too. Good luck.
Garoppolo: Good luck the rest of the way.
Belichick: You too.
Yeah, that one is easier to interpret.