San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the most intriguing players in the NFL. Tom Brady’s former backup already has two Super Bowl rings as a member of the New England Patriots. Garoppolo, 26, now has a fat new contract and is hoping to lead the 49ers back to the prominence the classic franchise enjoyed when Joe Montana and Steve Young were playing QB in the Bay Area. Garoppolo’s meteoric rise is a fascinating one.
Here are five fun facts to know about the man with the million-dollar arm and megawatt smile:
1. Grew Up in Chicago Suburbs, Attended Eastern Illinois
Garoppolo was raised in Arlington Heights, Ill., the Chicago suburb where Bears running back Walter Payton lived and famously ran hills in the offseason. Garoppolo is the third of four sons born to Tony and Denise Garoppolo. His father is an Italian mechanic, his mother a Polish chef who kept her growing boys fed with local favorites like Chicago-style deep dish pizza — still a Garoppolo favorite.
Lightly recruited, Garoppolo attended Eastern Illinois University, whose alumni includes Super Bowl-winning NFL coaches Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton as well as former Cowboys QB Tony Romo. As a senior, Garoppolo threw for 5,050 yards and 53 TDs en route to winning the Walter Payton Award, given to the nation’s top FCS offensive player.
2. Undefeated as a Starting NFL QB with Patriots and 49ers Going into 2018 Season
Since being the No. 62 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Garoppolo has put up gaudy stats, albeit in a limited sample size. The 6’2”, 225-pounder has completed 67.3 percent (183-of-272) of his passes for 2,250 yards, 12 TDs and 5 INTs for a 99.7 passer rating. Most impressive, Garoppolo has a perfect 7–0 record as a starting QB heading into the 2018 season, going 2–0 subbing for a suspended Brady with the Patriots and 5–0 with the 49ers last year — including wins over three playoff teams, the Titans, Jaguars and Rams. Garoppolo is the first NFL QB to start his career 7–0 since the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.
3. Signed Five-Year, $137.5 Million Contract with 49ers
Garoppolo may not have the proven track record of a franchise quarterback, but he will make elite QB money after inking a five-year, $137.5 million deal with San Francisco this offseason. Coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch think highly enough of Garoppolo’s potential that he will be paid $27.5 million per season, the highest annual salary in NFL history at the time of the signing.
4. Is Single and Ready to Mingle
TMZ has been hot on Garoppolo’s trail this offseason, catching the 26-year-old flirting with an unidentified blonde on the sidewalk outside a San Jose nightclub and going to Avra restaurant in Beverly Hills with adult film star Kiara Mia. “Life is different now,” Garoppolo said at a 49ers media event. “I’m under a microscope.” Previously, Garoppolo had been linked with Boston area Instagram model Alexandra King. But it appears he’s still looking for Mrs. Garoppolo, which should inspire plenty of nameplates on custom-made 49ers jerseys this season.
5. Jimmy GQ is an Instagram MVP
Dubbed “Jimmy GQ” due to his model good looks and penchant for stylish suits, Garroppolo has 779.5k followers on Instagram despite fewer than 100 posts as of the start of NFL training camp. But his posts are hit after hit, with 50 Cent in da club, Tom Brady at the Kentucky Derby, holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy and shirtless at the pool. As Jimmy GQ says, he’s “Just livin life one day at a time.” Expect the internet to collectively swoon with every touchdown pass and social media post made by Garoppolo from now on.