With the reports swirling that Kyle Shanahan will almost certainly become the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, one of his former quarterbacks now comes into focus as an option for the 49ers. Shanahan worked with Kirk Cousins for two seasons during his stay with the Washington Redskins, and the quarterback could be heavily pursued by San Francisco this offseason.
“If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they’ve pursued Shanahan,” wrote ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year’s No. 2 overall draft pick.”
This is something Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated about earlier this week, noting the close relationship between Shanahan and Cousins.
“In 2012, Washington made Kirk Cousins a fourth-round draft pick. Then-coach Mike Shanahan has repeatedly raved about Cousins, and Kyle Shanahan ran the offense in Washington for the first two years of Cousins’ career,” wrote Florio.
Cousins has proved himself capable of carrying an offense the past couple of years in Washington. He’s not at the same level as the best of the best in the NFL, but he’s honestly not far behind and could still be an ascending quarterback, especially if he’s reunited with Shanahan, who has brought out the best in Matt Ryan this year.
The past two seasons, starting all 32 games for Washington, Cousins threw for 9,083 yards with 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
The 49ers are absolutely at the point where they need to start from scratch. While Colin Kaepernick was much better this year working with Chip Kelly than he was in 2015 during the Jim Tomsula era, he still showed significant deficiencies when it comes to advanced passing. Furthermore, the rift between Kaepernick and the 49ers is likely so deep seeded that it cannot ever be fully repaired.
While the amount of draft currency needed to land a guy like Cousins is steep, teams simply don’t win in the NFL without a top-tier quarterback. And as for the financial price tag it would take to secure Cousins over the long haul, the 49ers have plenty of cap space to make it happen.