Jimmy Garoppolo won't beat Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl 2020 with just eight passes.
He'll be the other quarterback when his 49ers meet the Chiefs in Miami on February 2nd.
But the men who trained him on his way up won't bet against him if he beats Mahomes. Sweet Mahomes.
"The bigger the game, the bigger Jimmy gets," Doug Millsaps told The Post. "And it's not about Jimmy either. It's not about the ego, it's not about the bright lights. It's about finding a way to win and improve yourself and everyone else around him."
Millsaps trained Garoppolo and his three brothers at Rolling Meadows (Ill.) High School. John Lynch, the 49er GM, knew the backstory when he hugged Millsaps at the start of this playoff run.
"Thank you," Millsaps remembers when Lynch told him.
"No," said Millsaps, "thanks – you're the ones who were smart enough to get him."
"He said," No, you're the one smart enough to turn him into a quarterback. "
Indeed he was.
"He was number 29, he was an outsider and a running back," said Millsaps. "He didn't want to play quarterback. So I would go down and catch all the newbies to get to know them a little. So I play with Jimmy Fangen and suddenly the ball comes out of his hand. I said," Why are you wearing 29? " He said, "Well, I'm a running back and outside linebacker.
"& # 39; No, I think you're a quarterback. & # 39;"
Garoppolo was the first quarterback in his junior year.
"Trainer [Bill] Belichick once said to me, "We might not have won the Super Bowl if Jimmy hadn't been our scout." [team] Quarterback, ”said Millsaps. “He can react and create so many different looks for us. He's an external linebacker who plays quarterback, and you just don't find that in the NFL. "
It's hard to believe that Millsaps had to ask Northwestern to offer Garoppolo a scholarship.
"Everyone else wanted him as a full-back, as free security, as a corner – everyone wanted him as something else," said Millsaps.
Garoppolo landed in eastern Illinois, Tony Romo's old school, and started as a junior when Dino Babers, today's Syracuse coach, was hired.
"He's one of those guys who not only sees a lot but also listens," Babers told The Post. "And he has had a lot of experience. His first two years in college were not good. I would step on a ledge and say that a lot of people had doubts about him. And if you think about it, go into the league with the New England Patriots getting in and being the highest draft pick they ever had as a Belichick quarterback, and then not playing and sitting behind a Hall of Famer like Tom Brady, he learned a lot he saw, he sees and he hears, he sees and he hears. "
Garoppolo is 23: 5 as a starter and what the 49ers love about him is that he beat Drew Brees (48: 46 in New Orleans) a week in a shootout (349 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) and sit virtually in one can rocking chair and flogging the packers out of the way in an NFC championship game.
Babers arrived in 2012 and it wasn't long before Jimmy G mastered Babers' up-tempo offense.
"On our offensive we have many ways to name games and there are many ways to dictate games," said Babers. "And at some point there comes a time when you hand it over to the quarterback, and it becomes what Peyton Manning was for the Indianapolis Colts, where you can name a lot of them on the border. In time we came to the [Illinois State] game [in Week 3]I said, "This guy is ready to say everything." And I spoke to coaches on the offensive staff and asked them, "What do you think?" And there were advantages and disadvantages, but if you had the opportunity where someone had the ability has it sporty and the intelligence to make it intelligent and they go about their business – he was such a gymnastics rat, he was always looking at a tape and always wanted to know about the body's defenses and structures – when you give it to someone like that a lot of knowledge that the quickest way to dismantle a defense is to allow it to do it on the brink of scrum, and that was the very first game in which we said, "Okay, Jimmy, if you see that , you see that you see, sic & # 39; em. & # 39;
Â € œAnd when you go back and see the score of the game, boy, he damn knew what that word meant. … Then we really set off. "
Eastern Illinois lost to a senior team from the State of Illinois, but Garoppolo threw a 54-51 double-extension loss for 387 yards and two touchdowns.
The Garoppolo brothers now live in San Francisco. He has five close friends from high school who attend most of his games. The humble son of a working-class family.
"Jimmy was such a gym rat, he was such a cool guy," said Babers. "And he didn't even have a car in college. He literally had to … go everywhere. I can still remember a story his strength coach told me where we lost in his quarter-final last year, and one Week later, the whole stadium, the whole city is empty, and he's in the locker room with two pockets that fill all of his EIU stuff, and he's driving around town like Santa Claus, and here's the starting quarter back, and he's going to be everyone set possible records, and the strength coach stopped and drove him, so excited that he didn't have to walk back through town with two Santa Clauses green shopping bags for the EIU stuff.
"And then we see him come to a game on TV. He still has this EIU backpack to remember where he's from. It really tells you what kind of person you are dealing with. "
Garoppolo sounds too good to be true.
"His parents remind me of Ozzie and Harriet," said Babers. “Simply the absolutely perfect family. I spoke to his father twice in two years when he was the first quarterback. He threw for 4,000 [3,923] meter [as a junior] and 5,000 [5,080] meter [with 55 TDs and one INT as a senior], And I basically only saw the father twice. Once after a game in his junior year, he went through the parking lot and basically he just introduced himself to me. I stopped to speak to him and he says, "Coach, I know you're busy, I just wanted to introduce myself to you." And then he walks through the rest of the parking lot. "
Millsaps watched Garoppolo play at the EIU as often as possible.
"It was so entertaining that I made sure to watch it," said Millsaps. "It's also one of my most popular families ever."
Millsaps was at the NFC championship game and will be for Garoppolo against Mahomes in Miami.
"I saw him in Houston as a replacement for Tom Brady in the Super Bowl," said Millsaps, "and that was really special."
Joe Montana was Joe Cool in the Super Bowl. Here comes Jimmy Cool.
You can find more information about the NFL playoffs in the latest episode of the podcast "Gang’s All Here":