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Kirk Cousins talked 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch

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Kirk Cousins is likely to get the franchise tag later this month, but if he does not, odds are probably good the 49ers pursue him.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins could hit free agency in March, and from a free agency perspective, he is likely the top option on the market. There is a very good chance Washington uses the franchise tag on him for a second straight season. He could still be traded in that instance, but he has also said he is open to playing the coming season under the tag.

Cousins is down in Houston for the Super Bowl promoting the Puppy Bowl that takes place Sunday before the game, and so he is making the rounds of radio stations. On Thursday, he had an interesting conversation with the folks at KNBR.

Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger had him on, and they peppered him with numerous questions about potentially playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Cousins deflected fairly well, but he also had nothing but praise for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. Cousins played for Shanahan in Washington, and by all accounts had a strong relationship with Shanahan.

Cousins understands the business side of things, and thinks the team using the tag would suggest they are still interested in keeping him around. Given the money involved, that is slightly obvious, but it is interesting to hear Cousins throw around his reasoning.

KNBR’s Kevin Jones wrote about why the 49ers might pursue Cousins in 2018 if he is tagged this year. It is going to be interesting to see how the 49ers approach the QB position this year. If they don’t make a push for Cousins, do we see them go young in the draft and add a veteran to bridge the gap? Or do they go with a veteran, wait on a later pick in the draft, and potentially pursue Cousins next year? And of course, trades are always on the table as well.

Here is what Cousins had to say about the 49ers and free agency. He also talked about the Puppy Bowl and the Super Bowl matchup this Sunday, among other things. You can listen to the full thing here.

On 49ers interest:

I’ll tell ya, it’s good to be wanted. So hopefully down the road there will be people wanting me. But we’ll see how it all plays out. The unique thing with the franchise tag is if [Washington] choose to place that on me, then I’m pretty much off the market. So we’ll see what they choose to do come March 1st. And the ball is in their court, along those lines, but based on that, I’ll react accordingly.

On franchise tag:

Yea. it’s a good amount of money, so I’m not complaining. As my agent told me from Day 1, the franchise tag is your friend.

On if he is not franchised, what 49ers have to come up with (5 years, $120M joke):

[Laugh] Yea, I’m sure that’ll pay the bills.

On John Lynch as GM:

You know, John’s a smart guy. He’s been around this league a long time. He knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl. He’s done it. Been on a couple really good organizations. And while there may be a learning curve because he hasn’t been in that role before and it will take some time, I think down the road, they may have as sharp a guy and as experienced a guy as you can find. And a class act at that. I think it was a good hire, and credit the 49ers for going out side the box, and doing something different, and not just getting stuck in a rut of the same old thing.

On what it was like working with Kyle Shanahan in Washington, and what his addition might mean to 49ers:

Well, I’ve always been a big fan of Kyle’s. I’ve always spoken very highly of him. The day I was picked, he called me right after the draft, and just preached belief in me, and encouragement, has coached me hard in all my years playing for him. I loved his system right away, and saw it run successfully with Robert Griffin. I’ve seen it now successfully run with Matt Ryan. And I just believe that Kyle adapts his scheme to the players he has. He’s just an offensive genius. He understands Xs and Os really well. He watches film, he doesn’t just read press clippings or make decisions based on hype. He watches the tape, and his decisions over time have proven to be right. So, I’m a big fan of his, always will be. Even when he’s on other teams, I’ve always rooted for him, and wanted to see him succeed.

On if he is happy in Washington:

You know, I wanna be where I’m wanted. And last year, when the team tagged me, that was an indication to me that I’m wanted there. At least for that year. They wouldn’t have tagged me, and as you said, for that kind of money, for a guy that they didn’t want. And the same is true this year. Come March 1st, if they tag me, that sends a strong indication that, hey, we want you back, you’re our guy. The NFL, it’s season-to-season, anyway. It’s all one-year deals for the most part. I’ll take the one-year deal at that point, but if they don’t tag me, that also sends a strong message. And at that point, I would certainly feel like maybe I gotta look elsewhere.

On if one-year deal means they don’t necessarily want him long-term:

Well, there are a lot of other factors that come into play, and they understand the salary cap and all that much more than I do. But all I can do is go play football the best I can. Find completions, move the ball, score points, and then let the decision-makers make the decisions. I’ll just try to keep playing good football, good quality football at the quarterback position, and if I do that, I trust that good things will happen. You’re really only promised the next game, the next season, so I’ll take it one year at a time, and trust that if I can get out there and get a chance to play, I’ll make good on it, and good things will happen.

On if he is open to a move to the west coast after a life in the midwest and mid-Atlantic:

Ah, you know, from the day I left college and entered the draft, you have an open mind. And you just learn in this league that you never know. I was drafted by [Washington], I was shocked as anyone to go there. And I was ready to go anywhere, move to the west coast, east coast, down south to Texas, wherever it may be to pursue this dream and this career. Now is no different. You’re gonna go where the job takes you, and see how far this game can go before you hang it up. I have an open mind, my wife, even more importantly, has an open mind, she’s ready to do whatever it takes. We both love Washington, but we’re ready to do whatever it takes.