Why the Rams, Jimmy Garoppolo? 'Talking to Sean on the phone really sealed the deal'

During six seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo mostly foiled the Rams.

He was 8-0 against them in the regular season. Those victories and the 2,023 yards passing against the Rams were his most against any NFL opponent during his 10-year NFL career.

Garoppolo’s only defeat to the Rams came in the 2021 season’s NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium.

Now, the 32-year-old Garoppolo will play for the Rams.

On Tuesday, Garoppolo signed a one-year contract. Terms were not disclosed but after serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, he will be Matthew Stafford’s backup.

How was Garoppolo so successful against the Rams?

“Just luck I guess,” Garoppolo joked during a video conference with reporters, adding, “Having gone against them for so many years, I knew how good this defense was, how the offense could put up points. … That was a big part of my decision.

“I just wanted to find a good situation with good people around. And I think I found it here.”

Garoppolo, who began his career as a backup to Tom Brady with the New England Patriots, provides the Rams with a proven No. 2 as Stafford prepares for his 16th NFL season.

Garoppolo led the 49ers to the Super Bowl during the 2019 season and has a 43-20 record as a starter. Last season, he played in seven games for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Garoppolo said he was familiar with Rams assistants Nick Caley and Mike LaFleur from his time with the Patriots and the 49ers, respectively. Playing for the Rams “really became appetizing” after speaking with McVay by phone last week.

“That was when it really started to click,” Garoppolo said. “Talking to Sean on the phone really sealed the deal.”

Before last season, the Rams and Raiders held joint practices during training camp. Afterward, Garoppolo said he visited with Stafford and McVay.

“Excited to work with him and learn from him, all that good stuff,” he said of Stafford.

He is looking forward to playing for McVay.

“He’s always just been a very perceptive guy,” Garoppolo said. “He sees a lot of things, sees it very well, sees it for what it is.

“And that’s a big part of how I got here. He had a vision, talked me through it and really just explained what he saw my role as.

“I mean, his football knowledge — I’ve heard it from so many different players and coaches — but to be here firsthand and to get to experience it, that’s what I’m really, really excited about.”

Garoppolo is not the first veteran quarterback to join the Rams as a backup.

In 2019, Blake Bortles was Jared Goff’s backup. Late in the 2022 season, after Stafford suffered a spinal injury, the Rams signed Baker Mayfield. The former No. 1 overall pick resurrected his career, playing in the final five games and earning a starting opportunity last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Midway through last season, the Rams released Brett Rypien and signed Carson Wentz, who led the Rams to a victory over the 49ers in a season finale that featured both teams resting most starters.

Of his suspension, Garoppolo said he “messed up” the NFL’s Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) when he initially joined the Raiders.

“Bad timing, I guess,” he said.

Garoppolo can practice and participate in preseason games but cannot participate in team activities or be around the Rams facility for the first two weeks of the season.

Garoppolo will “attack” organized-team activity workouts this spring and during training camp, and then “let those first two games pass by,” he said.

“I don’t know exactly what’s in store for me,” he said. “But maybe reset, reinvent, whatever you want to call it. I’m just excited to get back on the football field and start slinging it around with some new guys.”

It remains to be seen whether the Rams add another quarterback in the upcoming draft. They have 11 picks, including No. 19 overall.

Last year, they chose Stetson Bennett in the fourth round, but before the season, Bennett was put on the non-football injury/illness list because of an undisclosed condition. McVay and general manager Les Snead have not said whether he will return.

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