The rumor mill is running rampant about Kirk Cousins and the 49ers, as his close relationship with head coach Kyle Shanahan is again driving the speculation.
Jimmy Garoppolo is the starting quarterback in San Francisco and Cousins is entering the final year of his deal with Minnesota, but that isn't stopping multiple reporters from suggesting Cousins and Shanahan could eventually reunite.
"I think there's another quarterback that's going to be on the market soon that the 49ers are going to want to take a look at and he's in Minnesota now. We all know the history between Kyle Shanahan and Kirk Cousins, this is something that's been going on for years," said Diana Russini on ESPN's "Get Up."
"I've never seen somebody want a quarterback as bad as Kyle Shanahan has. It was a deal that almost happened, too. Kirk Cousins almost wound up with Kyle in San Francisco. It did not. I think they're waiting for that deal to wrap up."
The backstory on this is that Shanahan helped develop Cousins for two years with the Redskins. Shanahan even admitted to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer in December 2018 – after the 49ers had traded for Garoppolo – that he and GM John Lynch were still interested in getting Cousins, who was a few months from signing with Minnesota.
"But here’s what you may not know—even after San Francisco dealt a second-round pick to the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo on Oct. 30, Shanahan and GM John Lynch had yet to shut the door on the idea of pursuing Cousins. Garoppolo had much to prove over the two months to follow, and the man Shanahan developed in D.C. in 2012 and ’13 lurked as an option if Tom Brady’s backup fell on his face."
Furthermore, Lynch told an ESPN radio station in March 2018 – just after Cousins signed his $84 million deal with the Vikings – that Shanahan was down in the dumps that he didn't get Cousins.
"We made the trade, but then there were some days when Kyle Shanahan was, like, in mourning, because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually. I was proud of Kyle, because I think he knew this was the right thing for our franchise. And he didn’t hesitate. But then, even then, Jimmy had to really prove himself."
Garoppolo helped take the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season, but a report from NBC Sports Boston recently said Shanahan has questions about just how good Garoppolo can be, also questioning the 28-year-old's decision-making.
All of the speculation might lead back to 42-year-old Tom Brady, whose been connected to the 49ers in reports. Would the 'Niners sign Brady in a win-now mode for 2020 then sign Cousins as a free agent next offseason? That idea was explored Monday by Breer.
"Let’s start with Brady’s interest in the Niners, and you can ask yourself this question: If the greatest player of all-time wanted to play for you, wouldn’t you have to—whether he was 30 or 50—discuss it? I think that’s where the Niners are right now. What becomes of it, I don’t know. But I do know there’s been perception in league circles that Jimmy Garoppolo is on the clock, because Kirk Cousins is a free agent in 2021. (I still believe Brady landing in San Francisco is very unlikely, but maybe a significant return for Garoppolo would change the equation.)"
But what if the Vikings give Cousins a contract extension? That's also been a local talker as it would allow Minnesota to restructure his $31 million 2020 salary to free up cap space they could use to fill numerous holes in the starting lineup.
It's a wild situation and everyone knows the rumors will only get juicier with free agency opening March 16. For now, it's all talk. We'll see what happens.