Dossier: The 49ers Mined a Golden Boy in Jimmy Garoppolo

By Julissa James

Illustration by Donna Grethen.

Can we all just agree that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a certain something? Some call it star quality, others je ne sais quoi — either way, it’s launched the 28-year-old Illinois native from playing a supporting role with the New England Patriots to starring in a storybook (so far) season with the Niners.

In February 2018, Garoppolo, who goes by Jimmy G, became the highest-paid player in the NFL (at the time) when he signed a five-year, $137.5 million deal with the team, proving that when you possess a lethal combination of Hollywood-caliber good looks and actual talent, people will literally agree to anything.

The return on the Niners’ investment is coming back big. Garoppolo has become a fast favorite among die-hard fans — many of whom flock to Levi’s Stadium in part just to bask in his aura — and frankly, anyone blessed with the gift of sight. In an October interview, Jimmy G admitted that the “Bay has grown on me a ton. I love it here.”

The feeling is mutual — the San Francisco Zoo doesn’t name an elusive snow leopard after just anyone.

Illustration by Donna Grethen.

#Winning: In October, San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler posed the question: “But is it really safe for a fan to put his or her heart back on the line, after nearly two decades of grumbling over the team’s stumbling and bumbling?” The answer: “It is, if you judge by Jimmy Garoppolo’s smile.” Could it be that Garoppolo’s game tactic is to smile so brightly that it momentarily blinds opposing players? With a majority of wins (so far!) this season, we’d say it’s highly likely. 

What He’s Into: During his downtime, and in true millennial fashion, Jimmy G enjoys the bygone simplicity of 1990s sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends. He’s also a hip-hop enthusiast, as indicated by his Instagram post from June 26, 2018, where he fanboys alongside rapper 50 Cent. A particularly surprising finding in our research: One of his favorite guilty pleasure tunes is “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Who He’s Into: Garoppolo has kept a low dating profile since being dragged through the media for going on what looked like a perfectly lovely date with adult film actress Kiara Mia (let them live!). To our knowledge, no one has caught jersey no. 10’s eye since. Should we dust off our 2019 Most Eligibles list?

A Family Man: Garoppolo cites his father, Tony, as his biggest role model. He publicly sings the praises of his mother, Denise, calling her both“the best mom ever” and “the only girl I’ll ever need” in sweetly composed Instagram captions. And his three brothers, Tony, Mike and Billy, have arguably been his biggest fans since he was a player at Eastern Illinois University.

Illustration by Donna Grethen.

Italian and Proud: Speaking of famiglia, Garoppolo is loud and proud of his Italian roots. His skin tone? Classic olive. His pre-game meal? Pasta, the original carbo-load. One of his favorite San Francisco neighborhoods? North Beach, naturally.

“Feels great, baby!”: Is what he said to FOX Sports journalist Erin Andrews during a (now viral) interview where she asked him how it felt to beat the Arizona Cardinals, putting the team at a perfect record of 8-0. Twitter wasted no time in mercilessly poking fun at Jimmy G  for “shooting his shot” at the sideline reporter, but neither Andrews or Garoppolo lost any sleep over the interaction. Jimmy G’s explanation? “I was excited. Eight and 0, baby.” No harm, no foul. 

Heart of Gold: In 2019, Garoppolo participated in the Men’s Wearhouse 2019 Suit Drive. He urged his followers to take a break from proposing marriage in his Instagram comments (kidding, kinda) and donate their gently-used professional gear to the cause, which then passed along the clothing to nonprofits who help people get back into the workforce. 

Illustration by Donna Grethen.

Scorpio Season: Garoppolo is a Scorpio (birthday: November 2). For astrology non-believers, It’s a seemingly insignificant piece of information, but it may be the most explanatory of all: Garoppolo’s intense gaze and perfectly grown in beard are true-blue Scorpio. So is the intentional mystery surrounding his personal life and calculated strategy on the field. 

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