49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo says joining Jordan Brand is a dream come true

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the newest members of Jordan Brand.

Garoppolo, who was a child in the Chicago area at the peak of basketball legend Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame career, told ESPN this week that he signed with Jordan's signature brand over the summer, making it the newest addition to his endorsement portfolio.

An official announcement about the addition of Garoppolo and other newly signed Jordan Brand athletes is expected next week.

"Since I got in the league, it was one of my dreams to be with Jordan and it came true, so I'm pretty excited about it," Garoppolo told ESPN.

Garoppolo's dream is tied to his Chicago-area roots. Garoppolo, 26, grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois, in a family full of Chicago sports fans. His basement was full of tributes to the Garoppolo family's favorite teams: the Bulls, the NFL's Bears and MLB's White Sox.

At the center of it all was Jordan, who was dominating the NBA when Garoppolo was just a child. And while his specific memories of Jordan are limited -- Garoppolo was 6 when Jordan won his final title in 1998 -- he was never far away from tales (and YouTube clips) of Jordan's on-court dominance and off-court brand-building.

"I was pretty young, but even when they were winning those championships, I can remember staying up with my three brothers, mom and dad -- we'd all be in the living room watching it," Garoppolo said. "It was so exciting. Ever since I was a little kid, he's been my favorite athlete, so it's pretty cool to be part of his brand now."

Garoppolo, who has mostly kept his focus on football since joining the 49ers last October, said he and his agency began weighing various opportunities presented by Under Armour, Adidas, Nike and Nike subsidiary Jordan in the spring, just before the Niners started organized team activities.

Around that time, Garoppolo gave the shoes a test drive after the company sent over a pair of the Jordan 11s in cleat form. He's since tested others and counts the 3s as his favorites while noting that there's something new and special planned for the season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 9.

Jordan Brand is obviously most known for Jordan himself and his signature shoes, but former and current athletes such as Derek Jeter and Russell Westbrook are also part of the company's stable.

Jordan Brand has a number of NFL players under its umbrella, with defensive backs such as Earl Thomas and Jalen Ramsey among the best of the group. Garoppolo is the only known starting quarterback signed to the brand, though Green Bay backup DeShone Kizer is also part of the Jordan team. More NFL players are expected to be announced along with Garoppolo next week.

In addition to his new deal with Jordan, Garoppolo also has endorsements with New Era and Bose. For the time being, Garoppolo said not to expect to see any big marketing campaigns involving him, though he acknowledged that there are more business-related initiatives in the works.

"Each player, you are your own brand," Garoppolo said. "I don't currently have one yet. We're working on that, but you have got to treat your brand like you want to be perceived by everybody. I think Michael did a great job of that."