Joniak: Garoppolo Aims To Be First Chicago-Born QB To Win Super Bowl

Jeff Joniak
January 28, 2020 - 10:12 pm
Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers speaks to the media during the San Francisco 49ers media availability prior to Super Bowl LIV at the James L. Knight Center on January 28, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


MIAMI (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Jeff Joniak filed these reporter's notes Monday from the site of Super Bowl LIV, which pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs:

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-As you might imagine, this Super Bowl week starts with a sadness to it. Kobe Bryant’s death is hitting home to a lot of players on the 49ers and Chiefs, but also to media. Radio Row in the Miami Convention Center is talking more about the lasting impact and legacy of Bryant than the 54th Super Bowl. At least early in the week, that’s the conversation as you walk around and sample the discussion. It certainly is expected.

-If Jimmy Garoppolo, a former Rolling Meadows high school star, leads the San Francisco 49ers to a title, he will be the first Chicago area kid to be the Super Bowl winning quarterback. Previously, Batavia’s Ken Anderson played in Super Bowl XVI with the Bengals, and Mt. Carmel’s Donovan McNabb played in Super Bowl XXXIX with Andy Reid’s Eagles.  

-Repairing or re-energizing the tight end position remains a critical part of the Bears' offseason offensive reboot. Tony Gonzalez believes title contenders need a star at the position in today’s NFL: “It’s foolish to think that you can get there without a good tight end now. Just look at the winners of the last couple of Super Bowls. Zach Ertz, obviously Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), what he meant to that team with Tom Brady, we’re seeing it now the best tight ends competing in the Super Bowl. That’s the way it goes. It creates such a mismatch.”

-The Hall of Fame tight end loves how coordinators are using the position all over the field. “Every play they are either the first or second option, and they should be.” Gonzalez believes Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and George Kittle of the 49ers are the best two tight ends in the league, with Ertz right behind them.

-Teams need an outstanding, fast, big, athletic safety to contend with these tight ends down the field. So, for every great tight end Gonzalez feels is needed to win the championship, I believe teams need a great safety to stop them.

-Northern Illinois alum Jimmie Ward believes he is that safety for the 49ers. “Yes," he said, "I feel like I am that. I feel like I can make plays. I’m going to be tested Sunday because they’ve got a lot of guys that force missed tackles.”

-Bogged down by injuries the bulk of his career, the former first-round pick is playing at a high level right now as he prepares to enter free agency. He was in the same draft class as Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2014.

-Ward played his prep ball in Mobile, Alabama, and only NIU and SIU offered him scholarships, so he was moving to Illinois, regardless. He grew from the experience and notably helped the Huskies to the Orange Bowl, where had 14 tackles in a 31-10 loss. That game helped Ward on draft day. It made him some money.

-I was stopped by two NFL people I trust this week about the hiring of John DeFilippo as Bears Coach Matt Nagy’s new quarterback coach. They love him. He is an outstanding communicator, with high energy, a small college background, where a lot of young coaches are starting to emerge these days, and he is very experienced. 

-DeFilippo guested on Bears All-Access on 670 The Score with Tom Thayer and me Tuesday night and said his globe-trotting could be perceived as good and bad, but in the big picture, moving 22 times by age 41 is a learning experience. He coached quarterbacks Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, and Derek Carr, among others.

-Fox Sports play-by-play man Joe Buck is ready to call Super Bowl LIV, 50 years after his Hall of Fame dad called Super Bowl IV. I asked him if he has listened back to any of his father’s old radio and television play-by-play calls. “What I hear in my dad was a genuine love of what he was covering,” Buck said. “I’ve listened to a lot of Super Bowl IV and realized just how good he was at calling football. I thought he was as good as anybody ever calling football on the radio, and that’s not easy to do, as you know.”

-Buck said his favorite call ever by his dad was the final out of Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson’s no-hitter, because his voice cracks. “I can tell how emotional he is. He loved Bob Gibson, and he loved the beauty and the spectacle of somebody that good, that day.”

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.