Why SF 49ers won’t make trade for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers are once again being tied to rumors about acquiring Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, but here’s why it won’t happen.

As soon as the SF 49ers were officially out on soon-to-be former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who will be dealt to the LA Rams once the league’s new year kicks off this March, rumors began to pick up head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. were back in on a potential deal for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

It’s nothing new. Back in 2017, the Niners’ initial plan was to acquire Cousins when he became a free agent in 2018. But that was before the New England Patriots traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, leaving Cousins to sign his lucrative free-agent deal with the Vikings the following offseason.

But Garoppolo’s future has come into question. Following his fourth-quarter collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, combined with him missing all but six games in 2020 with ankle injuries, Garoppolo’s status as a starter has endured no shortage of doubt.

Could Shanahan and the SF 49ers look for an upgrade? Absolutely. They’ve never shied away from trying to upgrade when possible.

But does Cousins provide that needed upgrade?

No, not exactly. And even if he did only moderately, would a trade with Minnesota actually be feasible?

No on that front, too.

Evidence why SF 49ers won’t trade with Vikings for Kirk Cousins

Perhaps the only reason why Cousins is being discussed is the affinity he’s received from Shanahan over the years, stemming almost entirely from their time together back with the Washington Football Team when Cousins broke into the league in 2012.

Cousins, like Garoppolo, is a good quarterback. But neither should be considered true “elevators” who are capable of shouldering their teams regardless of the level of talent surrounding them.

The Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman explained:

"Recent history proves there’s no exact pattern with that portends to Garoppolo’s ability to stay healthy and effective in 2021. That uncertainty is a reason the 49ers might be willing to make an upgrade to someone more reliable — at the right price.The 49ers believe they can build a championship winner around a healthy Garoppolo, but the evidence from the last three seasons suggests Garoppolo needs optimal surroundings to win. He’s not the caliber of quarterback that elevates a franchise on his own. That’s a differentiating factor from the elite to the notches below."

Then there’s the compensation. For starters, it’s unclear whether or not the Vikings actually want to move Cousins. Like Garoppolo, there’s speculation. But the Rams deal for Stafford requiring two first-round picks, a Round 3 selection and quarterback Jared Goff, helped determine the market for what it might take for the SF 49ers to make a move for Cousins. Perhaps not a benchmark, but at least a ballpark figure.

Related Story. 5 trade destinations for Jimmy Garoppolo. light

Unlike the Rams or the Niners’ other NFC West division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco hasn’t shown much interest in recent seasons trading away first-round picks. While some of the team’s first-round draft investments haven’t panned out (i.e. defensive end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster), the fact the SF 49ers need some cheaper rookie contracts in the wake of having a mere $9.5 million in projected cap space for 2021, according to Over the Cap.

The finances, too, add more reason why the Niners won’t be interested in trading for Cousins.

True, moving on from Garoppolo could net San Francisco $24.1 million in much-needed cap savings in 2021. But Cousins’ total cap hit of $31 million this year with $21 million of it guaranteed doesn’t exactly offer up a vast improvement from that vantage point.

If anything, the SF 49ers would be more handcuffed by Cousins’ contract, if dealt, than they currently are with Garoppolo.

Next. 5 quarterback options for 49ers in wake of Matt Stafford trade. dark

Shanahan might still be outwardly wanting of Cousins, yes. But the context behind a would-be acquisition doesn’t add up to the Niners being legitimate trade partners with Minnesota for the quarterback’s services.