The franchise that coined the motto “Just win, baby!” is hiring the quarterback who trademarked his “Feels great, baby!” celebration cry.
Jimmy Garoppolo, after 5 1/2 years with the 49ers, is joining the Las Vegas Raiders, the NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo first reported Monday as free agency talks began.
Garoppolo, 31, went 42-19 as the 49ers’ starter since arriving in a Halloween 2017 trade with the New England Patriots. That includes his 2-1 playoff showings in the 2019 and ’21 seasons. His tenure effectively ended three months ago, when he broke his left foot and did not return for the franchise’s playoff run that ended with a NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia.
Signings can not become official until Wednesday at 1 p.m.
In going to the Raiders, Garoppolo succeeds long-time starter Derek Carr, who signed last week with the New Orleans Saints. The Raiders-Garoppolo pairing reunites him with coach Josh McDaniels, who was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator when Garoppolo broke into the NFL as a 2014 second-round pick and Tom Brady’s understudy.
Garoppolo’s exit from the 49ers was expected a year ago, but shoulder surgery scared off potential suitors, so Garoppolo reported to training camp and threw on his own on a side field before restructuring his contract, which included a pay cut but also a clause that made sure the 49ers would not place the franchise tag on him.
Thus, the 49ers forge ahead with Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, in that order for at least the offseason program that begins next month. Lance is coming off a right-ankle injury, and Purdy is facing six months of rehabilitation after his throwing elbow got repaired last Friday.
The Raiders went 6-11 last season and placed third in the AFC West in their first season with McDaniels as coach and Dave Ziegler as general manager; Ziegler worked in the Patriots’ scouting and personnel department when Garoppolo was there in 2014-17.
Garoppolo was sidelined with his foot injury when the Raiders lost at home in overtime to the 49ers and Purdy on Jan. 1.
Other 49ers quarterbacks who’ve crossed over to the Raiders: Jim Plunkett, Rick Mirer and Jeff Garcia.
The 49ers-Raiders pipeline, of course, goes beyond quarterbacks. Among those to play for both franchises: Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Rod Woodson, Bill Romanowski, Tom Rathman, Randy Moss, Charlie Garner, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dana Stubblefield, Cedrick Hardman, Ted Washington, Ted Kwalick and Jamie Williams.
The Raiders finished third last season in the AFC West, a conference bursting with big-name quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers) and Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos).