It seems every couple of years, Kirk Cousins is linked to the San Francisco 49ers. During the 2017 season, there was plenty of talk of the 49ers going after the soon-to-be free agent. This was put to bed when San Francisco traded a 2nd round pick for New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Furthermore, after an impressive close to the 2017 campaign, it was clear the 49ers were ready to commit long-term to Garoppolo. A year later and there is still no clarity on whether Garoppolo can be the player the 49ers envisioned when they signed him to a contract that included $74 million in guarantees. As such the rumors re-surfaced of whether the 49ers will look to trade for Kirk Cousins. These rumors don’t hold much stock but let’s look at how the two compare.
Quarterback Comparison: Kirk Cousins vs Jimmy Garoppolo
Let’s start with the biggest knock on Garoppolo, which is lack of experience. Jimmy G has just 10 starts in his NFL career, two for New England & eight for San Francisco. Cousins, meanwhile, has amassed 74 starts in the NFL. So it’s fair to question how they have managed to receive contracts where Cousins’ average yearly salary is only $500,000 more than Garoppolo. This category is easy to call.
Advantage: Kirk Cousins
With experience comes a lot of tape and statistics to measure of Kirk Cousins’ ability. He has passed for 4,000 passing yards in all four of his 16-start seasons. His yardage peaked in 2016 with 4,917. His career completion percentage is 66.5 percent but he managed to hit 70.1 percent of his targets in 2018. Cousins’ TD:INT ratio last season put him sixth in the league, throwing 30 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. However, his interceptions were not the problem last season. Cousins lost seven fumbles and five the previous year, taking his total turnovers over the past two years up to 35, just over one per game.
Garoppolo doesn’t have the depth of statistics and film that Cousins has. However, let’s take a look at the statistics we do have, whilst remembering to take into account the small sample. In the eight starts with San Francisco, Garoppolo completed 65 percent of his passes, putting him right around the Cousins mark. He has averaged 283 passing yards per game, which over 16 games would put him just over the 4,500-yard mark. Where Garoppolo falls far short of Cousins is the TD:INT ratio, throwing 11 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. However, having lost 0 fumbles, his turnover rate saves him slightly.
Right now we have seen more from Cousins, more consistently than we can say we have from Garoppolo.
Advantage: Kirk Cousins
Right now, it feels like we have seen all we are going to get from Kirk Cousins. You know what he brings to the table and not to expect much more from him. I can’t see him suddenly joining the elite level quarterbacks but I also don’t see him joining a back-ups list either. That’s what you get from Kirk Cousins, a stable quarterback who will get the job done and with a good enough team around him, might even take you deep into the playoffs.
However, if a team is looking for a high ceiling player, Garoppolo fits the bill. We have seen flashes of what he can do when he arrived in San Francisco when he joined to win five straight games. We aren’t talking about an off-season where he gets new draftees and time with the scheme. We are talking about dragging a terrible team and earning a W. This is what the 49ers are looking for with that big contract, a winner. Kirk Cousins, on the other hand, didn’t have a game-winning drive all of last season.
Sometimes a high ceiling is just a masquerade for a player we haven’t seen enough of. However, we’ve seen a lot of Cousins, and while he is a good player, he’s not the quarterback of the future.
Advantage: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo vs Kirk Cousins: Verdict
On paper, it may seem that Cousins is the better option. Nonetheless, I can’t see 49ers fans being happy if they were to trade for him. The 49ers don’t need that half-decent quarterback that could get into the playoffs if the team around him is good enough. They aren’t the 2017 Jaguars, who carried Blake Bortles to an AFC championship game in 2017. The team simply isn’t good enough. The 2nd overall pick is not for a team that is a steady QB away from making a Super Bowl run. So at this point in time, I want to see a full year out of Garoppolo before the 49ers give up on him. That ceiling could be high and if Jimmy G reaches his potential then they can build the team around him to become a powerhouse. Cousins may hold the advantage right now, but its a no from me.
Verdict: No Trade
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