Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lead their teams to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs haven’t been to the Super Bowl since they beat the Minnesota Vikings in 1970. While the 49ers return to the Super Bowl after losing to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 back in 2012.
We’ve seen it before. Joe Montana. Tom Brady. John Elway. These quarterbacks were defined by how they played in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning and Elway had a long history of struggling in the playoffs before winning Super Bowl titles. Brady and Montana won several titles and were known for coming up big in the most important games. Super Bowl 54 showcases two young quarterbacks in their first Super Bowl for historical franchises.
Mahomes and Garoppolo have had similar starts to their careers as they had to sit on the bench for some time before taking over as starters. Their paths after that went in different directions with the same destination: Miami.
Mahomes only had to wait a year before taking over for Alex Smith and now is about to complete his second year as the starter. He has been the star of the league since last season that saw the “Mahomes Magic” often with his ability to improv plays. His incredible arm strength has also had fans label him the best passer in the game. Just last season, he threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions. He got the team to the AFC title game where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champ Patriots in overtime.
This season went more different for Mahomes than what he and fans were expecting. Mahomes suffered a dislocated patella in week seven again the Denver Broncos. This knocked him out for two weeks before coming back and helped the team soar to a first-round bye. His numbers were down significantly due to the injury and some up and down performances before and after the injury. He still threw for 4,031 yards along with 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He dominated through the playoffs so far with completing almost 66% of his passes, recording 615 yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
It would be hard to believe that he would not be able to keep up the momentum going into the Super Bowl. The tough part will be going up against the pass rush of the 49ers that has already made life miserable for Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers. Nick Bosa’s three sacks have a lot to do with that as the 49ers defense has produced nine sacks in two games. The secondary for the 49ers has been solid as well with Richard Sherman shutting down receivers in coverage. With Mahomes’ arm strength and the weapons that surround him, the Chiefs will make for a worthy opponent for San Francisco.
Garoppolo sat behind Tom Brady in New England for three seasons before getting traded to San Francisco and signed to a massive contract. His career with the 49ers got off to an interesting start as he posted a 5-0 record in his starts with them in 2017. 2018 was a wash with his ACL injury that knocked him out three games into the season.
2019 has been up and down for Garoppolo. At moments, he has looked spectacular, but others he has been shaky with protecting the football. He’s come on strong late in the season to get the team the number one seed in the playoffs. In his first complete season as the starter, he threw for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His postseason in two games has been smooth and easy. His running game has carried the offense in both playoff games. Garoppolo has only thrown for 208 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. In fact, he threw only eight passes in the NFC title game against the Packers.
The verdict is still out on whether Garoppolo will be an elite quarterback or middle of the road. So far, it can be characterized as average. He does show good accuracy and a strong arm, but can at times be careless with the football. Despite what fans and analysts think of him as a passer, he’s proven to be a winner. In 28 career starts in regular season and postseason, he has a 23-5 record as a starter. That’s hard to argue against. He may not be the flashiest quarterback, but he does know how to win.
Mahomes has arm strength that most quarterbacks dream of and he has the ability to make any throw, anytime, anywhere. He’s the most skilled quarterback in the NFL right now and there’s not many that can compete with him. He does have some mobility to use his legs if he needs to. We’ve seen it in both AFC playoffs game where made positive plays from his legs. Not to mention he has the fastest receiver in the NFL in Tyreek Hill and one of the best tight ends in Travis Kelce in his arsenal.
Garoppolo has one of the best running attacks in the NFL with Raheem Mostert exploding in the playoffs. This helps take the pressure off of Garoppolo and helps them control the time of possession. George Kittle is the most complete tight end in the league and Emmanuel Sanders has become a great pick up for the team. Garoppolo has to be able to protect the football in passing downs in order for the 49ers to be within reach.
Skillset wise, Mahomes has the advantage and takes Garoppolo as a passer. Mahomes is unique and a once in a lifetime talent. Garoppolo has the better running game to work with, but Mahomes has more weapons at wide receiver to throw it to. In the end, Mahomes is on paper and the eye test the better quarterback. Fortunately for Garoppolo, it’s all about whether the 49ers defense will have an answer for Mahomes in the biggest game of the season.
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