Retired New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich had a chance to play with Jimmy Garoppolo for three years from 2014 to 2016 before the former left the NFL in 2016 after eight seasons with the team. So Ninkovich knew what he was talking about when he said that the Patriots made a mistake in trading Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick on October 30 [VIDEO]. “I think that was a mistake trading Jimmy because Jimmy’s an unbelievable quarterback,” Ninkovich told the Boston-based sports radio station WEEI, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ninkovich believes that Garoppolo is the type of quarterback a franchise can build around.

“Obviously, he’s going to be the franchise guy in San Francisco,” said Ninkovich, who has a strong point as Garoppolo led the 49ers to four straight wins in as many starts. “He’s smart. He understands how to manage a game and that’s what you want in your quarterback is a game manager,” said Ninkovich, who praised Garoppolo’s composure in their 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 17.

Patriots refused to place franchise tag on backup

Instead of placing the franchise tag on Garoppolo in the offseason, the Patriots opted to ship him to the 49ers. If they placed the tag on Garoppolo, the Patriots would have to pay him at least $23 million guaranteed as Tom Brady’s backup. Brady, for his part, was happy with the way things turned out for Garoppolo in San Francisco [VIDEO]. “He's done a great job,” Brady told WEEI's "Kirk & Callahan Show” when asked about his former backup.

Garoppolo was Brady’s backup for four seasons since he was drafted 62nd overall by the Patriots in 2014. In five games, with four starts, Garoppolo completed 100-of-145 passes for 1,268 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions. Garoppolo also ran for 12 yards and a touchdown for the 49ers.

Garoppolo making football fun again in SF

According to Michael Silver of NFL.com, football is fun again in San Francisco with the arrival of Garoppolo, who replaced the ineffective CJ Beathard as starter. According to 49ers veteran left tackle Joe Staley, Garoppolo has brought a positive sentiment to the team after carrying the 49ers to four straight wins. “It's exciting, man,” Staley told Silver. “I can't wait -- next year's gonna be pretty special. Now the pressure's on the rest of us: We can't screw it up.” San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan, for his part, said Garoppolo’s enthusiasm and ability “has rubbed off on everyone”, inspiring the 49ers to step up since his arrival.