It wasn't that long ago that Chris Simms ranked Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 21 on his list of top 40 NFL quarterbacks, and said that he'd take Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins over the San Francisco 49ers' signal-caller.

That's why it is a bit surprising to hear Simms, who joined KNBR on Thursday, call Garoppolo a dark-horse candidate for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award.

"If you have a little extra money, throw that down for MVP," Simms said of Garoppolo on the "Murph and Mac" show after praising the 49ers' head coach and his close friend, Kyle Shanahan. "I think he could be that dark-horse guy. What is an MVP? It goes to the quarterback every year, right? To a team that's successful.

"If [the 49ers] turn it around and have this year where they go 10-6, and he's up there as far as one of the top-rated quarterbacks in football, I think he could be in that conversation."

Patrick Mahomes won the honor after last season's campaign that saw the Kansas City Chiefs' second-year quarterback passing for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns.

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Garoppolo, on the other hand, saw his first season as an NFL team's bonafide starting quarterback end during a Week 3 outing in Kansas City after suffering a torn ACL. The 49ers and their fans hope to get a full season out of their starting quarterback this year and finally turn a corner as an organization.

"I hope it works out for Garoppolo," Simms added.

The former NFL quarterback turned analyst for NBC Sports acknowledges that Garoppolo could have a slow start this season. Simms, after all, is no stranger to returning from a significant injury. He suffered a ruptured spleen during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"He hasn't played a ton of football, so he's going to get back on the field a little bit and be like, 'Man, this is a little unfamiliar. I haven't been out here in a while with DeForest Buckner around me and (Nick) Bosa.'"

You can listen to the entire conversation with Simms below.