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Sunday 7: Patriots should have received more from San Francisco for Jimmy Garoppolo

Ryan Hannable
December 24, 2017 - 6:00 am

1. After his first three starts with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo is confirming what we all thought — he’s damn good. He’s led his new team to three straight wins and has now won all five of his NFL starts. He is the first quarterback to win his first five starts since Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season in 2004. He has also passed for over 300 yards in two straight contests, including 381 last week against the Titans. New England traded him to San Francisco at the trade deadline for a 2018 second-round pick and now three games into his 49ers career, it’s clear the Patriots could have received more than a second-round pick in return. From this viewpoint, there was nothing wrong with the timing of the trade, as it really was the Patriots' last chance to trade him. They couldn’t trade him this offseason as they needed to make sure Tom Brady was the same player at 40 as he was at 39 and they couldn’t keep him after this season because he wouldn’t sign an extension, and the franchise tag wasn’t a feasible option for the Patriots. Appearing on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd this week, 49ers general manager John Lynch said it took them 10 minutes to decide to accept the trade when New England called at the deadline. This indicates there were no negotiations on the compensation. New England likely couldn’t get the 49ers’ first-round pick, as it likely will be a top-10 pick, but it certainly could have got an additional pick or two. Maybe two third-round picks over the next two years, or a 2019 second-round pick, in addition the 2018 second-rounder. The Patriots had to know they were trading away a franchise quarterback and to get only a second-rounder doesn’t seem right.

2. The hype surrounding Garoppolo on the West Coast is off the charts, but it would go to a whole new level if he and the 49ers were able to beat the Jaguars on Sunday. Garoppolo’s wins have come against the Bears, Texans and Titans -- not exactly the greatest collection of teams, but the Jaguars are right at the top of the AFC and have arguably the best defense in all of football. Garoppolo certainly will be challenged more than in any game this season, but it’s a chance to see exactly how good he is.

3. It was somewhat of a surprise to see the Steelers release 39-year-old James Harrison, the franchise sack leader, on Saturday. He reportedly was unhappy with his lack of playing time this season, playing in just five games and totaling one sack. Many have already wondered if the Patriots would take a shot at him, and from this viewpoint it would make a lot of sense. The Patriots are lacking depth at the defensive end/outside linebacker position and he would have a pro-rated, veteran minimum contract, so there would be very little risk involved. It makes a lot of sense for New England, so it’s worth keeping an eye on his status when he hits the waiver wire early next week and then if he goes unclaimed, as a free agent.

4. The Alex Guerrero-Bill Belichick-Brady topic has been a big newsmaker this week. As much as some believe it is not a story, it absolutely is. When something so important to the greatest quarterback of all-time is changed, of course it becomes a story. Now, whether it is a big story or not, that’s a different topic and really it only becomes a big story if Brady makes it one by raising a stink. This doesn’t seem likely, though. Brady and Belichick are among the best in sports at not bringing personal issues to the field. 

5. For the first time since before the bye week (six games) Patriots running back Mike Gillislee in all likelihood will be active Sunday against the Bills, his former team. With Rex Burkhead being ruled out, the Patriots are in need of a back, so Gillislee is that guy. A lot of credit should be given to him with how he’s handled the last several weeks, as even though he’s been inactive he hasn’t changed his routine and by all accounts hasn’t complained behind the scenes. This speaks to the 27-year-olds professionalism. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots feature a run-heavy offense and Gillislee to have a big day against his former team.

6. The Pro Bowl players were announced this week and even though the Patriots had four players named — Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Matthew Slater and James Develin — a few others likely could’ve been named as well. Safety Devin McCourty, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and right guard Shaq Mason were the three biggest Patriots snubs. It is interesting that the Raiders had seven players get named, and then the Eagles, the best team in football, had two.

7. ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30 will be debuting “The Two Bills” featuring Belichick and Bill Parcells this winter. No release date was announced at the time the trailer was released, but we’re told a date should be coming very, very soon. Stay tuned.

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