A 49ers’ midseason acquisition who is fresh from the New England Patriots really wants to be back in Santa Clara next season and is not afraid to say so.
“There’s something special going on here, and I want to be a part of it,” defensive end Cassius Marsh said this week. “I really, truly love being here and want to stay here. From the moment I got here I felt at home.”
OK. We know that’s not the ex-Patriot and soon-to-be free agent you’re most pining to see signed for 2018 and beyond. But Marsh’s words are worth noting because Jimmy Garoppolo has had similar comments on how quickly and easily he was embraced by the 49ers locker room when he arrived
Which is to say, it’s not lip service: There’s a brotherhood, camaraderie and optimism among the 49ers that hasn’t existed since the early Jim Harbaugh years here.
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Whether the 49ers can ink Garoppolo to a long-term deal or whether they’ll have to play the franchise-tag game like Washington has done for years with Kirk Cousins will boil down to money, of course. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that Garoppolo walked through the door on Halloween and, in the blink of an eye, became one of the guys.
If you were to create a “How Things Could Go Wrong” list with the 49ers-Garoppolo relationship – and we have – one of the items at the top would be if Garoppolo had a desire to be somewhere else.
League observers, for example, are eager to see if Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, targeted by the 49ers a year ago, winds up in a head-coaching spot. If he did, Garoppolo, who spent nearly four seasons under McDaniels, might be linked to him the way Cousins has been linked to his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan.
New England also must be eyed with suspicion. If Tom Brady, who turns 41 in August, doesn’t play as long as hoped, would the Patriots be content to watch a player they groomed flourish on the West Coast or would they work like the devil to pry him loose?
Remember, these are the Patriots and McDaniels, whose Broncos team once secretly taped a 49ers walkthrough, that we’re talking about. Sportsmanship hasn’t exactly been their strong suit through the years.
But before you start hyperventilating, these are mere hyphotheticals. And as we stated earlier, Garoppolo seems to like it here.
And why not? The team is young, ascendant and will have, according to overthecap.com, $117 million in salary-cap space next season, the most in the NFL. That’s enough to sign Garoppolo and give him some weapons.
As Marsh said, there’s a belief in the locker room that there’s something truly special happening, thanks in no small part to Garoppolo, who quickly has made the 49ers his team.
The quarterback was miked for Sunday’s come-from-behind (twice) win over the Tennessee Titans. The way he directed his receivers, exhorted his offensive linemen and embraced his quarterbacks coach, Rich Scangarello, after the last-second field goal made him look like a 10-year veteran who’s spent his career with San Francisco.
On Wednesday Garoppolo was asked directly whether he saw himself in Santa Clara for the long term. He gave an answer that would make Bill Belichick proud.
“If we handle the Jaguars well, that’ll be a good test for us,” he said. “And finish out the season well – we’ll figure it out after that.”
Before that question, however, he noted that his immediate family – his parents and three brothers – were at Levi’s Stadium for Sunday’s game, each decked out in a No. 10 49ers jersey. They felt the energy inside the building. Garoppolo feels it, too.
“It sounds like we got a good thing going,” he said. “The fans are excited. The stadium was on fire Sunday. Hopefully it’ll be like that this Sunday and we’ll give them another good performance.”