Jimmy Garoppolo may be the future of the San Francisco 49ers, but the original worst-kept secret was the 49ers’ plans to make a push for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2018 after he completed his second season under the franchise tag.
Then in October, the 49ers sent a second round pick to the New England Patriots for Garoppolo and the rest is history. Unfortunately, Cousins wasn’t just the plan, he was 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s number one choice to lead the offense the following year.
49ers general manager John Lynch confirmed as much on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo radio show indicating Shanahan had a bit of a buyer’s remorse in not getting his number one choice:
“Jimmy [Garoppolo], we made the trade, but then there were some days that 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 that this was the right thing for our franchise. And he didn’t hesitate. But then, even then, Jimmy had to really prove himself. Kyle, I think was really smart. He didn’t play him right away.”
Shanahan may have had his heart set on Cousins, but he didn’t let that affect his judgment with Garoppolo, keeping him out off the field until he was ready. As stated before, the 49ers wouldn’t have minded trading or letting Garoppolo walk in free agency had things not worked out—then they could have made their initial push for Cousins. After winning five games, with a team that had lost all but one of their games before he took the starting role, the decision was easy.
“I would tell you that Jimmy really impressed Kyle to the point that he said, ‘this is our guy. ‘We’re excited in that. He really didn’t have a thorough understanding of what we were asking him to do. He kind of piece mailed game plans that we were putting together. So our thought process is, if he can go in through a complete offseason and really master the system, it can get even better. So we gotta keep adding talent about him and we’re really excited about his future.”
Plenty of 49ers fans would likely have been happy with Cousins had Garoppolo not happened. However, this seems like a classic case of the second choice being the best one.