Ironically in 2018, long before a 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl was even a thought, NFL.com ran an article implying that Garoppolo was overrated and Mahomes was set to break out.
Nearly two years later, the two are going head-to-head for the ultimate prize. But that may be the only thing they have in common.
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Their styles, experiences and supporting casts are all very different. They win in different ways, lead in different ways and come from two historically contrasting organizations.
How does all of this factor in at Hard Rock Stadium on Feb. 2? Here's our quarterback comparison.
Although it's his sixth season in the NFL, Jimmy Garoppplo only has 28 starts. Being drafted by the New England Patriots (2014), he sat behind Tom Brady for two and a half seasons before the 49ers made the move to trade for him. (Tearing his ACL early in the 2018 season also factors into his somewhat limited experience as a starter.)
The years as Brady's understudy, however, appear to be paying dividends.
During his time in New England, he got to watch and learn from an all-time great in two Super Bowls, and as the old saying goes, it's less tread on the tires.
*Garoppolo did get to start twice for the Patriots while Tom Brady was suspended for Deflategate.
His current NFL record as a starter is 23-5.
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In his third NFL season, 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes already has more starts than Garoppolo (35), and he missed two games this season with a dislocated kneecap.*
The Chiefs used their first-round pick on him in 2017, taking him tenth overall.
Being an understudy was not the plan for Mahomes, at least not for long.
He got one season behind Alex Smith before the Chiefs traded him, making Mahomes the new man behind center.
His current NFL record is 27-8, and last season he just missed the Super Bowl.
Mahomes led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship where they fell to the Patriots in overtime.
2019 Regular Season Stats
Yards per Attempt: 8.4
Completion Percentage: 69.1
Yards per Attempt: 8.3
Completion Percentage: 65.9
However, stats don't tell the whole story, and can sometimes be deceiving. A lot of the numbers depend on...
Both the Chiefs and the 49ers have stacked rosters. The areas of strength, however, are what set them apart.
Garoppolo has the luxury of playing in a more classic, smash-mouth style offense. Behind a powerful offensive line, the team runs... a lot.
For example, he only threw the ball eight times in the entire NFC Championship game and the 49ers still throttled a strong Packers team to put up 37 points compared to Green Bay's 20.
All this to say, it takes a significant amount of pressure off the quarterback when the offense doesn't hinge on his passing game. The more a team rushes, the greater the ball security and less chance for errors that end in turnovers.
When he does have spend more time in the pocket, Garoppolo's got solid options between tight end George Kittle and receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders.
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On the other side of the ball, their strong secondary led by veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, does an A+ job at keeping opposing quarterbacks out of the end zone.
Not to mention the defense's 48 regular sacks followed by nine in the post-season.
Patrick Mahomes, on the other hand, is the heart and soul of the Kansas City Chiefs.
With a questionable defense that tends to play well in streaks, it's pretty much up to their young quarterback when they face good teams.
They've relied on him to bail them out from deep deficits, like what we saw in the AFC Divisional Round against the Houston Texans.
Most people watching were ready to call it a season when the scoreless Chiefs were down by three touchdowns less than 15 minutes into the game.
After a disastrous first quarter, Mahomes came alive and put the explosiveness of Kansas City's offense on full display. He led the team to a come back of the ages to win 51-31.
Of course, he doesn't do it all himself. His luxury is an arsenal of offensive weapons that allow for lots of crafty play-calling.
Surrounded by tight end Travis Kelce, and receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill aka the "Cheetah," the playbook never runs dry.
Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the 49ers in Super Bowl 2020.