Then an opportunity presented itself: The Patriots were willing to send backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2nd Round pick. A deal that was too good to pass up. Garoppolo joined the Niners late in the 2017 season and went 5-0 in his first 5 starts -- a star was born.
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This Saturday we'll see the 49ers' quarterback of the present/future versus the QB that could have been. Cousins, now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, is coming off the biggest win of his career - an overtime upset victory over the New Orleans Saints. Garoppolo is coming off a week of rest, as the 49ers earned a first-round bye as the NFC's number one seed. Both quarterbacks have plenty of offensive weapons to work with, and strong defenses to keep them in games.
So which QB is best? On the surface, Garoppolo seems like the easy pick. But when you dig down, it's pretty evenly matched.
Statistically, the comparison is pretty close. This season, Garoppolo had more passing yards, yards per attempt, and completions -- but Cousins sat out the last game of the Vikings season. The 49ers' QB only has one more touchdown than Cousins (27-26), and they have the exact same completion percentage (69.1). Cousins has the edge with a 107.4 passer rating vs. Garoppolo's 102.0 mark. And Garoppolo had over twice as many interceptions (13) than Cousins (6).
It's worth noting, however, that Garoppolo is coming off a season-ending ACL injury and was likely combating a bit of rust at the start of the season.
Cousins is 1-2 in his career in the postseason. Garoppolo has never started a playoff game, but is 19-5 since becoming the 49ers starting quarterback, winning at a ridiculous clip.
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Both quarterbacks are also evenly matched when it comes to their catchphrases... Cousins became famous for yelling "YOU LIKE THAT!?" after a big win for Washington. He repeated his signature call in the Vikings locker room last week after beating the Saints. Jimmy G has recently trademarked the phrase "Feels great, baby." A line he famously blurted out when he got a little too excited during a postgame interview with Fox Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews following a win over the Arizona Cardinals on Halloween
While the comps are pretty even, you'd be hard-pressed to find a coach or general manager that would choose to build a franchise around Cousins over Garoppolo. Jimmy G is three years younger than Cousins and spent the first three years of his career under the tutelage of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. While Garoppolo and Cousins don't technically go head to head (they'll say they are really just competing against the opposing defense on Saturday) it is funny to see the way fate brought them together for the 49ers first-ever playoff game at Levi's Stadium.
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Jimmy G is already a 2-time Super Bowl Champion w/ the Patriots. Tomorrow the #49ers QB makes his first career playoff start. Teammates & coaches are unfazed and say No. 10 is ready for this moment. #ABC7Now #GoNiners ➡️ https://t.co/xjReR0D3bz pic.twitter.com/2Jh6rV27rv— Chris Alvarez (@CAlvarezABC7) January 11, 2020