A New Trade Partner for Kirk Cousins Just Entered the Chat

PFN Envisions
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The San Francisco 49ers were knocked out of the NFL playoffs on Sunday, suffering a lopsided 31-7 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Eagles are beginning their early preparations for Super Bowl LVII, the 49ers will start taking a long hard look in the mirror.

Armed with a dominant defense, and big-name playmakers on offense, San Francisco might just be “a quarterback away” from striking the iron while it’s hot and taking advantage of a window that has them vying for the Super Bowl over the next few years.

A New Trade Partner for Kirk Cousins Just Entered the Chat

It was once thought that Trey Lance, the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, would be the golden child to take this team over the hump. But a slow rookie season and injury-shortened sophomore expedition have left a cloud of concern over the big move that cost the 49ers two first-round picks.

A New Trade Partner for Kirk
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Then there was Jimmy Garoppolo, who, looking for an opportunity of his own, couldn’t get out of the Bay Area before the season and filled in admirably after Lance’s season-ending injury. But the same week the front office began sharing their desire to discuss a future contract with Garoppolo, he suffered a season-ending broken foot that once again put his future in jeopardy.

And finally, we consider “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy, who, due to an injury in the NFC Championship game, finally might have seen the clock strike midnight.

To say that 49ers fans and decision-makers might have had their fair share of quarterback injuries is a bit of an understatement. But are they headed back to the drawing board to look for a durable, proven quarterback that could step in right off the bat and be the piece the squad is missing?

NFL Analyst Criticizes Kirk Cousins
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There’s more than just a little something to this thought. And there’s also a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings that might fit the mold almost too perfectly.

There’s history at play here, too.

Kyle Shanahan, the current head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is known for his ability to develop and work with quarterbacks. His passion for the position is evident in the way he runs his offense and his unwavering support for his signal-callers that he’s been dealt by general manager John Lynch. One quarterback who has continuously had a special place in Shanahan’s heart is Kirk Cousins.

Shanahan and Cousins first worked together in 2012 when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins. During their time together in Washington, Shanahan was instrumental in Cousins’ development as a quarterback. He taught him the intricacies of his offensive system and worked with him on his technique, helping lay the groundwork that developed Cousins into one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league.

Shanahan was known to have a high opinion of Cousins’ ability and was a strong advocate for him as a starting quarterback. Despite his success, Cousins faced criticism from some who felt he was not a franchise quarterback. However, Shanahan never wavered in his belief in Cousins and was vocal about his support. He believed Cousins was a special talent who could lead a team to success.

Shanahan expressed his admiration for Cousins in a 2021 interview, saying, “To say that my prototypical guy is someone like Kirk Cousins…I mean, that’s just… everyone knows my history with Kirk. We drafted him in the 4th round in Washington. I got to coach him for three games. And then, we were fired, I left, I thought we’d have a chance to get him [in San Francisco] in free agency, and I would have loved to have him in free agency until Jimmy came along the year before. Because I thought we could have won with him, just like Minnesota has.”

When Shanahan was hired as the head coach of the 49ers in 2017, he pursued Cousins in free agency. Despite a strong push from several teams, Cousins landed on the Vikings, where he has had success — to a point. A point that reared its ugly head again down the stretch of Minnesota’s 2022 NFL Wild Card playoff game.

The relationship between Shanahan and Cousins has continued over the years from afar, and the admiration from coach to player hasn’t wavered. In that same 2021 interview, Shanahan was once asked about Cousins, and he couldn’t help but express his admiration for the quarterback. “I love Kirk…[Turns to GM John Lynch]…I know I’m not allowed to talk about other players, but hey, Kirk’s a hell of a player, and a lot of people would be lucky to have a player like that.”

Kyle Shanahan’s love for Cousins is a story of development and trust. That development and trust is something that Shanahan and the 49ers have struggled to replicate with Garoppolo, Lance, and Purdy.

Wildcard Playoff Predictions
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As San Francisco’s season ends in the Championship Round once again, Shanahan and Lynch are meeting again at a crossroads. How short is the window for Kittle, McCaffery, Samuel, and the rest of the 49ers offense? How much longer can their defense sustain and hold the opposition at bay? Are they willing to wait on Lance, take a risk on Jimmy, or put a starter tag on Purdy, given the stakes?

If not, that free-agent market is littered with names of successful quarterbacks with ties to the Bay Area. Brady, Rodgers, and Kirk are just the tip of the iceberg, and Kirk might have the longest remaining window of that group.

What’s the asking price? Can they make the salary work? Would Kirk be willing to waive his no-trade clause? All of these other variables will surely factor in, but if the admiration, the fit, and the need are still there, the rest can be worked out.