Shanahan, formerly an offensive coordinator, and Cousins go back to their days in Washington from 2012 to 2013. The rapport developed as Cousins took over as the starting quarterback in place of the injured Robert Griffin III in 2013.
“That offseason, Kyle Shanahan, who had been named the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers after stops in Cleveland and Atlanta, tried to trade the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft for Cousins, according to Mike Shanahan,” Lewis wrote. “He knew Kirk knew his system, and he knew the type of guy Kirk was,” Mike Shanahan said. “But [Washington] wouldn’t even return the phone call.”
Instead, Cousins played another season for the then-Washington Redskins in 2017 followed by his current stint with the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers took defensive end Solomon Thomas in the 2017 NFL draft after a move down a spot via a trade with the Chicago Bears.
Shanahan and the 49ers got an additional chance to swing at Cousins in 2018 despite Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster, but Cousins for an $84 million with the Vikings. Cousins enters the final season of his contract with the team, and the 49ers remain in transition at quarterback.
Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy will start this season after he filled in effectively in place of the injured Garoppolo and Trey Lance. Garoppolo left in free agency this year for the Las Vegas Raiders, and the 49ers traded Lance, a former No. 3 pick in 2021, to the Dallas Cowboys.
49ers Could Get Another Shot at Kirk Cousins in 2024
Cousins could become a free agent in 2024, and the 49ers could make a move for him if that occurs. He has been one of the most effective quarterbacks in the NFC with 4,186.8 yards passing for 30.6 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions per season with the Vikings.
In addition, Cousins has been one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league. He has only missed a game as a full-time starter since 2015.
Washington originally drafted Cousins as a backup with a fourth-round pick in 2012. Cousins appeared in three games as a rookie and remained a back through his first three seasons before he became the full-time starter in the nation’s capital.
Kirk Cousins ‘Impressed’ Kyle Shanahan Early in Washington
Lewis wrote that Cousins “impressed” Shanahan “with how quickly he picked up the offense”. In addition, Shanahan “noticed that the team’s linemen would find Cousins in the cafeteria and sit with him”.
“Shanahan wanted to start Cousins ahead of Griffin during the 2013 season, according to former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, but ownership wanted the former top pick to get his starting job back, so that’s what happened,” Lewis wrote.
“The day Shanahan was fired after a 3-13 season [in 2013] that saw Griffin struggle in 13 starts, the outgoing coach shared his feelings about Cousins in an exit interview with owner Dan Snyder. ‘If you don’t want Kirk as your quarterback, you better cut him,’” Lewis continued.