It’s not just Tom Brady that Jimmy Garoppolo has to worry about.

Amid rumors that the two signal-callers may be swapping places this offseason, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote on Monday that there is a “perception in league circles that Jimmy Garoppolo is on the clock, because Kirk Cousins is a free agent in 2021.”

On cursory glance, it’s an odd report on the heels of the 49ers’ recent Super Bowl appearance. While Garoppolo has a reputation as a game manager, Cousins is older and offers arguably less upside. There have been whispers, however, that the 49ers could be hesitant to stick with the 28-year-old long term.

“As much as Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan likes Garoppolo, I’ve been told by multiple sources that he’s got some reservations about Garoppolo’s ceiling and overall decision making,” Patriots insider Tom Curran wrote last week.

Cousins, 31, signed a blockbuster three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract with the Vikings in 2018. The deal made him the highest-paid player in NFL history at the time. He played two seasons under Shanahan in Washington before the offensive coordinator moved onto the Browns, then the Falcons, and finally, the 49ers as head coach.

Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins
Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk CousinsGetty Images

It was rumored back in 2018, before Cousins signed with the Vikings, that the 49ers would pursue him because of his relationship with Shanahan.

After winning just four games in 2018, the 49ers bounced back to finish 13-3 atop the NFC West. Much of that had to do with a healthy Garoppolo, who was sidelined for most of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in Week 3. He finished the 2019 regular season with a 69.1 completion percentage, 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The 49ers defeated the Vikings 27-10 in the divisional round due in part to a two-touchdown performance from running back Tevin Coleman. Both quarterbacks had fairly anemic outings: Cousins completed 21 of 29 attempts for 172 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Garoppolo completed 11 of 19 for 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Garoppolo tossed two interceptions in the team’s Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs and whiffed at key moments, including an overthrown deep ball to receiver Emmanuel Sanders that would have given the 49ers the lead again in the fourth quarter.