Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football Outsiders calls Vikings’ Kirk Cousins a ‘healthier version’ of 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo

Feb 24, 2021 at 8:31 AM--

In a feature for ESPN, Football Outsiders suggested a non-Deshaun Watson bold move for each NFL team. Before continuing, it is important to note that they admit some of the suggestions are far-fetched but believe that each would improve the teams' chances of winning.

The suggestion for the San Francisco 49ers is to trade for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

I'll pause for the collective groan from readers.

This isn't really about the trade itself, though, but the reason behind the suggestion and why Cousins' name keeps coming up for the 49ers when the Vikings — nor Cousins — have given any indication that they desire a trade. In fact, they have indicated the opposite.

"Kirk's our guy," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer recently said. "You know, he had a terrific year this year. We were fourth in the league on offense. We have to get better on defense – we had a lot of injuries and young guys — that's my job to get it fixed."

Of course, you have repeatedly heard about head coach Kyle Shanahan's fondness for Cousins. Upon being hired by the 49ers, his initial rebuild plan revolved around one day acquiring Cousins. Shanahan even drafted C.J. Beathard because he reminds the coach of Cousins. So, there's that.

Football Outsiders' real focus is comparing Cousins' availability to Garoppolo's while stating that both quarterbacks are very similar in ability. Cousins has just been able to stay on the field more frequently.

Garoppolo's QBR in six starts last season was 61.5, and it was 60.8 during the 49ers' Super Bowl season in 2019. Cousins' QBR in the last three seasons was 59.5, 60.4, and 63.2. That is the basis for Football Outsiders' argument that the two quarterbacks are similar when they are on the field.

"The biggest difference is that Garoppolo has missed 23 starts over the past three years, with the 49ers going 6-17 in his absence, while Cousins has missed only one start since 2015," wrote Football Outsiders.

Garoppolo is younger than Cousins by three years — 29 compared to 32. He certainly wins more football games when healthy. Garoppolo is 24-9 (including playoffs) as a starter with the 49ers, while Cousins is 26-22-1 (including playoffs) in three seasons with the Vikings.

"They're not identical players -- Garoppolo hits more explosive plays but also gives up more sacks and interceptions -- but Cousins has basically been a healthier version of Garoppolo," continues Football Outsiders. "And that health could mean the difference between San Francisco challenging for Super Bowls or missing the playoffs entirely."

What would be in it for Minnesota? Football Outsiders argues that it might be time for the Vikings to shake things up a bit by either going with Garoppolo or a younger quarterback.

"Cousins also has two years left on his deal, and his cap hit skyrockets to $45 million in 2022; there won't be much of a market for him at that point," adds Football Outsiders. "If they're ever going to trade Cousins, it's now or never."

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