Skip to main content

When you’re playing in a one-off championship game like the Super Bowl, any player or coach can make a difference. More often than not, though, things come down to the quarterbacks. Thankfully, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers have plenty of talent under center with Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo, respectively.

While everyone might be impressed by Mahomes’ on-field magic, something more personal stands out in Jimmy Garoppolo’s memory. The two quarterbacks might not be great off the field, but the initially connected in a memorable way.

Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo’s roads to the Super Bowl

On Sunday, Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo will be tasked with leading their teams to a Lombardi Trophy. The two quarterbacks, however, have taken different paths to the big game.

As the son of a Major League Baseball player, Patrick Mahomes always seemed destined for athletic greatness. He could have gone pro on the baseball diamond, but chose to stay on the gridiron for good; that decision paid off in spades. The quarterback posted massive sophomore and junior seasons at Texas Tech before making the jump to the NFL. The Chiefs traded up to select him 10th overall in 2017; after a year sitting behind Alex Smith, Mahomes seized the starting job and started making history.

Jimmy Garoppolo also posted massive numbers in college, but he came with the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The New England Patriots apparently liked what they saw, because the club selected the quarterback 2014 draft. He would spend three full seasons backing up Tom Brady—Garoppolo’s only starts came during the veteran’s Deflategate suspension—before being traded to the 49ers. Garoppolo promptly took over the starting job in the Bay Area but tore his ACL early in the 2018 campaign. If this season is any indication, though, Jimmy G is back and better than ever.

How Patrick Mahomes Impressed Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season against the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite his injury and the 49ers’ eventual loss, the quarterback still remembers one simple gesture from Patrick Mahomes.

While the two signal-callers had never met, Mahomes still sought out his opposite number after the game. That may seem like an ordinary interaction—we see players chatting and shaking hands after every game’s final whistle—it stood out to Garoppolo.

“I didn’t even know Pat at the time,” Garoppolo explained. “For him to come out of his way after the game and wish me luck and everything, just a real class act. The guy is awesome on the field, off the field, he does it all.”

“For him to do something as simple as that,” the 49ers’ quarterback concluded, “ it went a long way.”

Both quarterbacks have a bright future ahead

It’s easy to frame the Super Bowl as a battle for quarterback superiority between Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo. While championships do define every player’s legacy, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

For the past two decades, we’ve been spoiled by fantastic quarterback play; whether you preferred Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Brett Favre, you had your pick of elite talent on any given Sunday. That generation of stars, however, is on the way out. The NFL will need some new quarterbacks to pick up the mantel.

Thankfully, football seems to be in good shape. Lamar Jackson posted a historic season; Deshaun Watson has the Texans trending in the right direction. Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo have their respective teams in the Super Bowl; some added class and mutual respect won’t hurt either.

Whether you’re a Chiefs fan, a 49ers fan, or a follower of football as a whole, there’s plenty to be positive about. Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo should be at the top of that list.