One of the biggest questions of the 2017 offseason was whether or not the Patriots would end up trading Jimmy Garoppolo

After a trade didn't go down during the offseason, it started to seem like maybe the Patriots had decided to hold on to their backup quarterback so that he could take over the starting job whenever Tom Brady ended up retiring. That all changed in October though, when the Patriots pulled off one of the most shocking trades of the Belichick era: They sent Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a second-round pick

As it turns out, it seems that Belichick held on to Garoppolo as long as possible because he was a huge fan of his backup quarterback. According to 49ers general manager John Lynch, Belichick could already tell that Garoppolo was going to be a great player. 

"Bill, beyond thinking this kid was a special football player, thought he was a special person," Lynch said recently, via "And he just said, 'You're gonna love the player, guys respond to him.' I didn't know what that meant. You think you know, but (we saw) that right away, even when he wasn't playing."

Garoppolo showed how special he was right away, going 5-0 in his first five starts for a team that went 1-10 before he was given the quarterback job. 

"[Jimmy] just had command, he became a leader instantly," Lynch said. "And you kept hearing that from people at New England -- the guys love him. You don't really know what that means until you see it, and right away we saw it."

The fact that the Patriots were unwilling to trade Garoppolo during the offseason is one of the things that sold Lynch on the trade. 

"You respect so much the way the Patriots do things, the fact they weren't willing to let him go said something," Lynch said. "And ultimately, I won't speak for them, but I think it had run its course there. I just felt really good about it and that's why we were so quick to pull the trigger when it presented itself."

Lynch is right, the Garoppolo situation did run its course in New England. Even if the Patriots wanted to keep him, it wasn't going to be financially possible. Belichick basically admitted as much shortly after the trade

"It's a tremendous situation to have two quarterbacks of the caliber that we've had for the past, call it 2.5 years when Jimmy was ready," Belichick said in early November. "Unfortunately it just wasn't sustainable."

With Garoppolo now in San Francisco, it's going to be Lynch's job to keep him there for as long as possible. Garoppolo's rookie contract expired at the end of the 2017 season, and the two sides are now working on a long-term deal that will keep the 49ers' new quarterback in San Francisco for the foreseeable future. 

"We want Jimmy to be a Niner for a long, long time," Lynch said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "That process is going to take place here. We're eager to get that done, to have the opportunity. But, I think one thing that we really believe is that those things should take place between us and his representatives and not occur and transpire in the public. That's the way we're going to treat that. You have our assurances, and the fans do, that we'd like nothing more than to make him a Niner for a long, long time."

Lynch better make sure he gets a deal done, because if he doesn't, Belichick would probably be more than happy to swoop in and steal Garoppolo from the 49ers. Now, that's not going to happen, but maybe it was all part of Belichick's diabolical plan: Trade Garoppolo and his expiring contract to get a second-round pick, then turn around and bring him back the very next season.