As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for an incredibly consequential 2023 NFL season, everyone has an opinion on how the team should address their quarterback situation moving forward. The players reportedly like Brock Purdy, Joe Montana wants to see Jimmy Garoppolo back under center, and Kyle Shanahan has confidently claimed that he had two starring caliber performers on his roster, and that’s better than one.
But what about Kirk Cousins, Shanahan’s former quarterback in Washington? Would the Niners consider making a trade for the veteran quarterback ahead of his impending free agency in 2024? According to Purple Insider Matthew Coller, a reunion between Shanahan and Cousins appears unlikely.
“The only scenario in which the Vikings would consider trading Cousins to the 49ers would be one where they are pressing the ‘Tank’ button,” Coller said via Sports Illustrated. “Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense to send a good quarterback to a terrific team in your own conference.”
“Plus, Brock Purdy’s career isn’t over with this injury, and Trey Lance still has a chance to become a very good QB. They’d be better served to stay the course and keep reloading their roster rather than going the expensive route with an older quarterback. All that said, everyone has a price, right? If the 49ers are desperate enough to win one with this group, you never know.”
While Coller is correct that everyone has their price, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the 49ers can fit Cousins’ financial hit under the salary cap and still retain starters like Mike McGlinchey, Jimmie Ward, and Samson Ebukam.
Jay Gruden Details how the San Francisco 49ers Almost Made a Deal
Back in 2021, Jay Gruden stopped by The Kevin Sheehan Show to discuss his tenure with Washington and whether or not there was any truth to the Niners’ interest in Cousins. His response will turn more than a few heads in the Bay Area.
“I don’t know exactly what we could have gotten, but I know it would have been more than just one No. 1 pick,” Gruden said via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I would imagine we could have got their No. 1 for at least two years, and maybe a couple No. 2s, in my opinion. You’re talking about a 0 million quarterback, you know. You’re talking about the starting quarterback for your franchise for the next five or 10 years, and obviously, that’s what some teams were looking for.”
If Gruden is correct, the Niners almost surrendered an absolute bounty for Cousins’ services and may have lost out on some really good players like Nick Bosa and Aaron Brooks, depending on which year of each pick was traded. So why didn’t a deal get done? Well, because Washington didn’t want to make a deal with Kyle Shanahan.
“Obviously, dealing with the Shanahans was something that they did not want to do,” Gruden added. “I don’t think they could stomach having Kirk Cousins be successful for Kyle Shanahan. I think that was probably, in my opinion, that’s probably why they didn’t want to do it with San Francisco. And I think there was still some hope that we could re-sign him.”
While it’s impossible to know how the 49ers would fared if Shanahan and Cousins reunited, it’s interesting to know learn just how different things could have turned out had Washington accepted the 49ers’ offer.
Kyle Shanahan Remains a fan of his Former Washington Quarterback
In 2021, Shanahan, too, was asked about his feeling towards Cousins, and despite rules against discussing other players, the second-generation head coach was incredibly complimentary of his former Washington quarterback.
“There’s a number of quarterbacks like that, but that’s the only one I’ve been associated with because people thought I was trying to bring him here, which I was at the time,” said Shanahan via Sports Illustrated. “It’s not because that’s how you draw it up. If you’re going to draw it up, you’re going to draw the biggest, fastest, strongest, and best quarterback in the pocket. So, I think that’s pretty ridiculous to say that, but I also tell you, I love Kirk. I know I’m not allowed to talk about other players, but Kirk’s a h*ll of a player, and a lot of people would be lucky to have a quarterback like that.”
After three-straight 4,000-yard seasons in Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine Shanahan’s admiration for Cousins has diminished. Still, it’s harder to imagine Cousins in a 49ers uniform in 2023, as there are just too many obstacles in the way of a potential trade.