All of the great quarterbacks have a number that's synonymous with their persona.
For Steve Young it was No. 8. Joe Montana had No. 16. Brett Favre donned No. 4. We know Tom Brady just as well as "TB12". Jimmy Garoppolo claims No. 10. That's not to say he will have a Hall of Fame career like the aforementioned players, but merely to explain that it's not surprising he feels so strongly about his number.
The digit has been with Garoppolo dating back to his high school days all the way through his collegiate career at Eastern Illinois and his four seasons with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo hadn't even landed in the Bay Area before Kendrick Bourne announced that he'd vacated No. 10 and switched to No. 84. Garoppolo explained the story behind his affinity for the No. 10 in an interview with 49ers Studios.
"I've had it since probably before high school even," Garoppolo said. "In high school I wore No. 10 and I was playing linebacker at the time. It kind of just stuck with me. My first year of college I was No. 15, unfortunately, but ever since then I've been No. 10. It's done good things for me, and so I thought I'd keep it going."
Now that Garoppolo can rest easy knowing that he has his coveted number stitched onto his new threads, it's time to dive into Kyle Shanahan's system. There's plenty of familiarity between Garoppolo and his new head coach dating back to the pre-draft process in 2014.
Shanahan was with the Cleveland Browns at the time and became enamored with Garoppolo. Shanahan shared on Tuesday that he studied Garoppolo extensively, and the two even had the opportunity to go out to dinner. He wouldn't say exactly where he ranked the Eastern Illinois product, but he did confirm that the QB was near (or at) the top of his list.
"There was a good relationship between us. We were both offensive-minded guys, and, whatever it was, something was clicking," Garoppolo said. "I'm glad I've got this opportunity to (work) with him."
Garoppolo has patiently bided his time in New England for four seasons. Things obviously weren't awful with the Patriots – he learned from Tom Brady and won two Super Bowl rings – but as a competitor, he was growing more and more eager for his shot to be an NFL starter.
Bill Belichick was the one to break the news to Garoppolo, but John Lynch and Shanahan came calling shortly after. That's when it hit home.
"I got so excited, man," Garoppolo said. "I was in my apartment by myself, but I could have run through a wall. That pure excitement of 'this is really happening'. It hit me when I talked to those two."
He may not start this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals, but Garoppolo's time is coming, sooner rather than later.