49ers vs. Vikings: It’s official, Jimmy Garoppolo is better than Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Neither Jimmy Garoppolo nor Kirk Cousins had great games in the 49ers’ Week 12 win over the Vikings, but at least Jimmy G got better as the game went on.

There’s probably a sizable part of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s heart that still wishes he had Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on his roster and not quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

As if that whole storyline dating back to 2017 hasn’t been played out and then some in the years since.

While Garoppolo might be playing out his final games in a Niners uniform, as Shanahan and Co. are paving the way for rookie signal-caller Trey Lance to take over, at least Jimmy G can have a bit of a last laugh over Cousins after what transpired between these two teams in a crucial Week 12 showdown at Levi’s Stadium in Week 12.

Both teams entered the game with 5-5 records and massive ramifications in the NFC playoff picture. Yet Garoppolo came out on top with San Francisco pulling off the 34-26 victory.

True, Garoppolo wasn’t great. He tossed a bone-headed interception right into the hands of Vikings safety Harrison Smith, and Shanahan was later seen on the sidelines tearing into his quarterback for the mistake. And later in the first half, Garoppolo was frequently missing targets high, while Cousins and the Vikings got out to a 14-7 lead over the 49ers.

But as Cousins started off strong, he waned late. And Garoppolo got better.

Jimmy Garoppolo got stronger for 49ers in second half, Kirk Cousins did not

At least Garoppolo got his bad playmaking out of the way early, and the Niners only had to trail by one score towards the end of the second quarter. And in those clutch moments, Garoppolo delivered arguably his best ball of the game, hitting wide receiver Jauan Jennings for a game-tying score with just 19 seconds remaining:

Tight window. Great throw. Great catch.

Cousins, meanwhile, began to struggle as the game wore on. In the third quarter, after San Francisco doubled down on its game-tying score with another touchdown to open up the second half, Cousins attempted one of the worst pass attempts we’ve seen in some time.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo bounces back after rough start vs. Vikings

All linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair had to do was literally reach up and pluck the ball out of the air at the 11:24 mark of the third quarter, returning it to the Vikings’ 2-yard line.

Cousins’ poor decision-making wouldn’t end there, though.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins have nearly identical stat lines

At the end of the game, it certainly looks as if Jimmy G and Cousins both had good, not necessarily great outings.

Their lines surely reflected as much:

  • Jimmy Garoppolo: 17-of-26, 230 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 90.2 rating
  • Kirk Cousins: 20-of-32, 238 yards, 2TDs, 1 INT, 93.0 rating

But, as Garoppolo got better in the second half, thanks largely to the 49ers reverting back to the strength of their running game, Cousins wasn’t able to match.

At least Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t line up under the wrong lineman

OK, so there are going to be plenty of pundits who argue Cousins is better than Garoppolo, and they’ll point out stats and how well Minnesota’s offense is performing overall this season, notably with Cousins playing well, too.

But at least Garoppolo didn’t do this:

Yes, that’s Cousins lining up under his right guard, not his center. In a clutch moment in a one-score game with just over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter for a contest that could have massive playoff implications.

Sure, Garoppolo has had some bone-headed moments, too, namely that “backwards” pass to nobody way back in Week 3.

Still, that’s a bad look from Cousins. At least Garoppolo didn’t have a moment quite like that one.

If all other things are equal, namely the level of play expected from both quarterbacks, Jimmy G can brag about being on the upside over Cousins.

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