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Familiarity led Hoyer back to Pats

The Providence Journal, R.I.

November 08. 2017 1:03AM
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer looks on prior to facing the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium last month. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Brian Hoyer learned a while ago to expect the unexpected when it came to the NFL, but even last week’s events shocked the veteran. While he was out shopping for a Halloween costume for his 5-year-old son, Garrett, his phone rang.

At this point, the most stressful part of Hoyer’s day was that his son wanted to be a grim reaper, but school rules wouldn’t allow it. As they settled in on a Ninja costume, San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan informed Hoyer that the 49ers were releasing him after acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots.

“When Kyle Shanahan called to tell me this was going to happen, on Monday, I was at the store buying my kid a Halloween costume. I was completely shocked that this had happened,” said Hoyer who signed with the Patriots two days after being released. “The one thing you learn is you never know how things are going to work out. You hope that you leave a good impression wherever you are and never burn a bridge, I guess. That’s the biggest thing in this league.”

Hoyer has moved around a lot over the course of his nine-year NFL career. After breaking into the league with the Patriots in 2009, he’s been to six other NFL cities. Follow ing the 2011 season, his last in Foxborough, the quarterback signed with Pittsburgh before being released and starting a game with Arizona that same 2012 season.

After that, Hoyer started a combined 16 games over two seasons (2013 and 2014) in Cleveland. In 2014, he set a career-high 3,326 passing yards. He spent 2015 in Houston, throwing a career-high 19 touchdown passes. Last season, he was in Chicago, where he started five games. This season, he was with the 49ers and as of six weeks ago, was their starting quarterback. He threw 1,245 yards to go along with four touchdowns and four interceptions in San Francisco.

When it came time to start a new chapter, Hoyer craved familiarity. That’s what made returning to the Patriots the best option for him and his family — even if that meant sitting behind Tom Brady again.

“That was kind of the excitement of coming back home — that type of thing,” said Hoyer, who inked a three-year contract with the Patriots. “To be able to play behind Tom and be in this organization, I was OK with that. For me, having played a lot, you’re always ready to play, but it wasn’t going to work out for me to be a starter there in San Francisco the rest of this year and probably not next year. For me, when I had the opportunity to be the backup to Tom in this organization, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Since coming back, he’s been cramming with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski. Hoyer’s first day (last Wednesday) was reminiscent of his last day in Foxborough in the 2012 offseason. All of a sudden, he was back in the same building, had a similar locker spot and was back in a team meeting led by Bill Belichick.

“My day was Wednesday and to go right back into that team meeting and listen to Bill, it was like a flashback,” Hoyer said. “It was almost like a dream. It’s great to be back.”

Hoyer kept in touch with Brady over the years. He said the quarterback would be one of the first people to reach out to him in the event he had a big game or suffered an injury. Hoyer always valued his early days here in Foxborough with Brady.

If not for those three years, the quarterback doesn’t think he’d have played so much over the last five seasons. Now, that experience has led him and his family back to New England.

“I really don’t think I would’ve lasted this long if I hadn’t been in New England to start off with,” Hoyer said. “From learning from Tom, from learning form Bill, the guys in this organization, how to do things the right way, I think that allowed me to go on and have the career I had up until this point.”


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