Patriots: Bill Belichick finally speaks on decision to trade Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22: Tom Brady /

Patriots HC Bill Belichick finally broke his silence on why he traded QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers back in 2017.

It’s truly bewildering how quickly the narrative surrounding a quarterback can change. Just last season, Patriots de facto general manager Bill Belichick was getting crushed for trading quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back in 2017 in favor of riding with an aging Tom Brady under center for at least a few more seasons.

In his first full year as the starter in San Francisco, Garoppolo completed close to 64% of his passes for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions. His exceptional play helped the 49ers clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and ultimately reach the Super Bowl, which they lost in heartbreaking fashion.

Fast forward to this year, however, and the discussion about the former Patriots backup has completely flipped. As evidenced by San Francisco’s dink and dunk offense, it’s become abundantly clear that head coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t trust him to throw the ball down field and take the top off opposing defenses.

Well, after years of anticipation, Belichick, with the two teams slated to face each other in Week 7, finally broke his silence on why he decided to trade Garoppolo in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick. Unfortunately for Patriots fans, his answer left a lot to be desired.

"“He came from a situation where we thought he’d need some development, and I think he did,” Belichick told reporters on Monday. “But he worked very hard to improve, particularly playing under center, dropping back under center, his mechanics, and turning his back on a defense. Things like that you don’t do all the time when you’re in shotgun all the time, like he was in college. Reading coverages and seeing things at this level that are a lot different from college.“Everybody here had a lot of confidence in him. It’s one of those situations where you’re just not able to keep all the players based on how the system is set up. It’s understandable.”"

Well, there you have it, folks. Per the coaching legend himself, trading the former second-round pick came down to nothing more than him not wanting to keep a starting-caliber quarterback rotting on the bench. Garoppolo was never going to supplant Brady as the starter, so it made complete sense to try and recoup some draft capital in return for him.

In hindsight, trading Garoppolo ultimately proved to be the right decision by Belichick as the Patriots appeared in two Super Bowls, which included a win in 2018, in two of Brady’s final three seasons in New England.

Despite being one win away from a championship last season, Garoppolo’s tenure in San Francisco looks increasingly murky right now. He was benched in Week 5 amid a putrid performance vs Miami and there’s been growing speculation that he could be released in the offseason when he will account for just a $2.8 million hit against the salary cap compared to a crippling $19.9 million hit if he was jettisoned in the middle of the campaign.

Though both the Patriots and 49ers are struggling to replicate the success they enjoyed in 2019, you can bet that all eyes will be on their clash at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. After all, it will mark Garoppolo’s first return to Foxborough since his polarizing move to the west coast three years ago.