On Monday, the Jimmy Garoppolo saga in San Francisco took an unexpected turn. Rather than trading the two-time Super Bowl champ, as many people expected, the 49ers opted to keep Garoppolo around, restructuring his contract to make him the highest-paid backup in the NFL. For most people, this move would be inconsequential, something they think about once and then forget entirely. After all, Trey Lance was always going to be the guy in San Francisco this year. However, for 49er fan Rita Carvalho, known online as Rita Oak, this decision means everything.
Carvalho gained a tremendous following online by “drawing Jimmy G every day until he gets traded.” Every morning, like clockwork, a new post would come up on her feed of Garoppolo in a different outfit, or jammed into a different movie, meme, or pop culture reference, and although Garoppolo’s trade timeline has been put on hold indefinitely, Carvalho vows to continue her commitment to the bit.
“After thinking over the pros and cons, and talking to my boyfriend about whether or not we were going to do this, I think it still makes sense for me to keep drawing Garoppolo,” Carvalho told Deadspin. “As long as I can make people happy, I’ll continue to do it.”
Carvalho’s Garoppolo drawings started in early February, during the middle of the MLB lockout. That’s actually where she drew inspiration for her drawings. See, at the start of the lockout, Reddit user u/DidItForTheStory started his own series called “Drawing Mike Trout every day until the lockout is over.” It lasted 96 days, and ranged from atrocious depictions of the three-time AL MVP to Trout posing as Kim Kardashian. The posts were tremendously popular, garnering thousands of upvotes every day. Seeing how happy these drawings were making people, Carvalho set out to start her own series, and after posting a few of her own images, a few strangers online convinced her to start a series following the Garoppolo trade saga. Each drawing takes about one to two hours to complete, sometimes more depending on the detail of the image and/or how many other players will be in the photo alongside Garoppolo.
“We wanted to celebrate what Garoppolo has done for this team,” Carvalho claimed. “My first drawing was sort of just a ‘Thank You’ note showing how grateful we were for everything he did for the team. I was kind of sad to see him go.”
Thankfully, Carvalho won’t have to see Garoppolo go, at least not in the immediate future now. However, that does make her work considerably harder. Carvalho claimed that when she started this project, ideas came to her easily.
“We hadn’t done anything, so any reference we could think of sounded like good ideas.”
Now, as the days climbed into the hundreds, she’s had to ask for ideas from her community more often. Carvalho believes that’s where some of her best ideas have come from. Her Day 209 drawing — posted Aug. 30, the morning after Jimmy G’s new contract details were released, ending any trade rumors — depicted Garoppolo as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street shouting the famous quote “I’m not leaving! The show goes on!” signaling to all her fans that neither she nor Jimmy G was going anywhere anytime soon. That idea came to her from a fan.
“I got someone on Reddit that had already sent me messages and asked me to do that idea, but I never did it. At the time, we all thought he was going to be traded, so I never did it. But I guess everything happens for a reason. When me and my boyfriend decided that we were going to continue, we thought OK, this is the perfect reference we have.’ It just fit perfectly,” Carvalho said.
When asked about her favorite drawings from the series, Carvalho said that her Calvin & Hobbes drawing — Day 169 — depicting George Kittle as Hobbes reminding Calvin/Garoppolo to value the good in life before it vanishes, stood out.
“That message to appreciate things was important to me, because I think we only appreciate things when they’re gone. I think that brought something different to the drawing. That one is my favorite.”
Carvalho is sure to appreciate the 49ers while they are as good as they are. She and her boyfriend, who turned Carvalho into a 49ers fan three years ago, believe that the team is set for a Super Bowl run in 2022. When asked what she expects from the team this season, Carvalho said “This year we could make it to the Super Bowl. We have two star QBs. There’s no excuse. We have to make it far.”
As a 49ers fan myself, I certainly hope that’s the case as well. Even if they disappoint though, 49ers fans everywhere will still be able to go online and see a new drawing of Garoppolo every morning. Hopefully, that’ll make the season a little more bearable should everything go wrong.