No. 1: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Quarterback Kirk Cousins
This is the Kyle Shanahan quarterback bowl.
Before New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered Jimmy Garoppolo for just a second-round pick last year, Shanahan had his eyes set on now-Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who he coached back in Washington with the Redskins in 2012 and 2013.
San Francisco 49ers
Since Washington’s front office is dysfunctional and stubbornly did not give Cousins the money that he desired, the quarterback was let go in free agency and signed a lucrative deal with some true Super Bowl contenders in the Vikings.
Yes, this is not a direct matchup between the two players, but it will be very interesting to see two talented quarterbacks in the same era duke it out.
Also, whichever quarterback loses the game will all but certainly cause a spur of overreactions from NFL fans and media. If Garoppolo loses, everyone will be laughing at the 49ers for “overpaying” a one-year wonder. If Cousins (hopefully) loses, the angle will be more of the same, blaming the Vikings for paying the wrong quarterback and derailing their Super Bowl chances.
Garoppolo will obviously have a tougher matchup against that scary Vikings defense with Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo and first-round rookie cornerback Mike Hughes manning the secondary, coupled with a frightening Minnesota front seven.
But Cousins’ matchup is no slouch either. The Niners have safeties Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt to help out Richard Sherman and Ahkello WItherspoon in the secondary, a nasty defensive line with DeForest Buckner with Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead (two of my breakout candidates) and solid underrated linebackers in Fred Warner and Brock Coyle.
Bring it on, Vikings. Let’s do this.