The San Francisco 49ers face Washington this week, and naturally one of the big talking points will be quarterback Kirk Cousins. Kyle Shanahan’s dad Mike Shanahan drafted him in 2012, in the same draft in which Washington selected Robert Griffin III. There was endless drama, but Cousins has emerged at the top of the heap.
The decision to draft another quarterback that year was a bit of a surprise, but in a league short on quarterbacks, having depth you can use when injuries happen is huge. However, some teams have also shown the value there is in having quarterback depth you can trade. Washington ended up in a position where it made sense to keep Cousins, but that was not the original plan.
Cousins was on a DC area radio station recently, and he talked about the first conversation he had with Kyle Shanahan after the 2012 NFL Draft.
“He was just introducing himself,” Cousins recalled. “I remember the first thing he said was, ‘My goal is to develop you and help you play well enough that someday we can trade you.'”
“And that was kind of the vision all along,” he said. “We didn’t draft you to not help the team or to sit on the bench, but at the same time, we don’t really want you to play. We want you to sit on the bench and hopefully play well enough in the preseason to get an opportunity.”
Although we have since learned how much the Shanahan’s liked Cousins over RG3, this comment makes a lot of sense. A day or two after drafting the two quarterbacks, it sounds about right that you’d sell a fourth round pick on that kind of future.
One of the biggest stories this coming offseason could be the future of Kirk Cousins. He is due to hit free agency, but we have a ways to go before we know if that will in fact happen. He could sign an extension this coming offseason with Washington, he could sign elsewhere, or he could be franchised for a third straight year.
If Cousins does hit the open market, I have to think odds are pretty high he lands with the 49ers. There is plenty of debate to be had about his abilities as a quarterback, but for the price it would cost, the team would be strongly convinced he’s their long-term answer.
If they sign Cousins, they would likely release Brian Hoyer. C.J. Beathard would likely get the first crack at backup quarterback, but like Cousins in 2012, the 49ers would be looking to develop him to a position where they could trade him. It’s not exactly the same as 2012 given the drama that eventually materialized about the Shanahan’s, Dan Snyder, and the RG3 pick, but the idea is still there to develop and potentially trade a young quarterback.
And if Cousins does not end up with the 49ers, the develop and trade option remains real. The 49ers could spend what will likely be a top five pick on one of the quarterbacks in the 2018 class, and still have Beathard developing to potentially trade. I’ve always been a fan of drafting quarterbacks even when you think you have an answer. The Ron Wolf strategy paid dividends in Green Bay, and I think Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch would be plenty wise following through with it in Santa Clara.