Another offseason, another few months of talk about the 49ers somehow finding a way to get Kyle Shanahan his desired quarterback, Kirk Cousins, right? Right?
OK, he might not be in the elite pantheon of signal-callers atop the NFL right now. But he’s not bad. Not by a long shot. And for those who pound the numbers and the stat sheets, Cousins is certainly elite by all measures.
Except for winning the big games.
The San Francisco 49ers beat Cousins in one of those big games, the 2020 divisional round in which the Niners stamped their ticket to the NFC Championship game en route to a Super Bowl appearance that season.
Yet the bigger picture was, is and potentially could still be about how head coach Kyle Shanahan still wants Cousins to find his way to San Francisco.
Yes, we’ve heard those NFL rumors for a long time now. And, guess what?
They’re back again.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that the 49ers were eyeing a trade for Kirk Cousins at NFL Scouting Combine
Speaking on what he heard from the NFL Combine last month, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said that he heard a renewed buzz about the 49ers trying to trade for Cousins once again, only to be undone by the quarterback’s restructured deal with Minnesota and the Niners’ free-agent pickup of former Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold:
"At the Scouting Combine, there were rumors of a potential trade that would have sent Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to the 49ers.Cousins has been linked to San Francisco from the moment Kyle Shanahan became the head coach. Kyle served as offensive coordinator in Washington when Kyle and his father, Mike, drafted Cousins in 2012. And Kyle has admitted that he planned to sign Cousins in 2018, with the 2017 trade for Jimmy Garoppolo derailing that intention.Obviously, it didn’t happen. Cousins restructured his contract with the Vikings. And the 49ers added Sam Darnold to a depth chart that includes Brock Purdy and Trey Lance."
Now, Florio did admit that San Francisco could pursue Cousins again in 2024 when he becomes a free agent, particularly if neither Darnold, Trey Lance and Brock Purdy work out as a long-term answer for Shanahan.
But that helps illustrate the point of why the Cousins rumors won’t go away.
Kirk Cousins will be linked to 49ers as long as they don’t have a quarterbacking answer
Cousins has always been a popular rumor for the 49ers, and it’s partially because Garoppolo never truly cemented himself as a long-term answer.
Close, but not quite. When Garoppolo was playing at his peak, such as in 2019, talk of Cousins to the Niners was almost nonexistent.
With Garoppolo out of the picture, San Francisco is back at the point of not having a true franchise quarterback. It hoped Lance would be such a player, and he still could be. Or it might be Purdy, who wowed fans late in 2022.
Related Story: Why Niners won’t trade for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Yet the simple fact of the entire matter is that the 49ers haven’t had “the guy” under center for a long period since Hall of Famer Steve Young. Jeff Garcia doesn’t count, and neither does Alex Smith. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t it, and Garoppolo was eventually shown the door instead of being retained at whatever cost.
If anything, the continued Cousins-to-Niners rumors aren’t going away because San Francisco isn’t able to identify a franchise-caliber quarterback.
When it does, Cousins chatter will cease.
Unless he somehow becomes the 49ers’ signal-caller, of course.