Jimmy Garoppolo ready for training camp after ACL injury, compares TE George Kittle to Gronk

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

Jimmy Garoppolo has yet to play a full season in San Francisco, which was supposed to be the place for Tom Brady’s backup to finally fit into a starting role.

After landing there midway through the 2017 season, Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 last year, sidelining him completely.

Now, though, Garoppolo is back at full strength. He nearly participated completely in OTAs last month, and expects to be ready to go come training camp later this month.

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“Initially, it was very tough,” Garoppolo said this week, via Sporting News. “Mentally, it was hard accepting that you had put all this work in during the offseason and you don't get to see any of it go through ... To get back for OTAs the way I did, and that I was able to participate, I couldn't have asked for much more. I'm feeling good going into training camp.”

Garoppolo threw for 718 yards on 53 receptions and had five touchdowns in three games for San Francisco before he tore his ACL. Backups C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens took the reigns at quarterback in his absence, though they finished with just a 4-12 record — tied for the second-worst in the league.

While a healthy Garoppolo would have helped San Francisco out immensely, the 27-year-old said he still picked up quite a bit on the sidelines. Watching the offense run from a different angle, he said, improved his game a lot.

“You're seeing the game from a different perspective, more of a coach's perspective,” Garoppolo said, via Sporting News. “I took every opportunity, whether it was third down, red zone or backed up in our own end and said, ‘What would I call here? What would I be thinking?’

“It helped my mental game tremendously watching the way Kyle does and strengthened us as quarterback and play-caller. The more we can do that, the better.”

After tearing his ACL in Week 3 last season, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is feeling good headed into training camp later this month. (AP/Tony Avelar)
After tearing his ACL in Week 3 last season, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is feeling good headed into training camp later this month. (AP/Tony Avelar)

Garoppolo compares George Kittle to Gronk

Garoppolo spent his first three seasons in the NFL playing with tight end Rob Gronkowski — providing him an incredible offensive asset while backing up Tom Brady in New England.

Now in San Francisco, Garoppolo sees a lot of the former Patriots standout in his current tight end, George Kittle.

Kittle exploded last season, recording 1,377 yards on 88 receptions and had five touchdowns in his second year in the league. The former Iowa standout led tight ends in the league in receiving yards, too, passing up Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz.

While their games may be similar, Garoppolo said he sees similarities between Kittle and Gronkowski off the field, too — something that has an impact on the entire locker room.

“There are a lot of similarities — on the field and a little bit off the field, too,” Garoppolo said, via Sporting News. “George is tremendous. The energy he brings every day, how he goes about his business — he’s always having fun while he’s doing it. Very similar to Gronk, they both enjoy what they do.

“It makes everything more enjoyable. It’s fun to be around, and it’s contagious. To have a guy like that makes our team so much closer as well as better.”

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sees a lot of Rob Gronkowski in his tight end George Kittle. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sees a lot of Rob Gronkowski in his tight end George Kittle. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)

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