The NFL silly season continues.
The San Francisco 49ers have been part of the quarterback drama since their season ended. The Niners — who have Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for 2021 — were linked to Matthew Stafford before he was shipped from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams. Reports indicate that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan had discussions with the Lions about Stafford but never formally made an offer for the 32-year-old QB.
Since then, some NFL media members have suggested that San Francisco could make a run at Minnesota Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was on the Pat McaFee show and shared his thoughts on Cousins’ fit with the 49ers:
“I would never say anything is impossible as you guys know. This NFL world taught us anyone can be traded. That one I would be very surprised about. For one, I am not sure that it benefits the Vikings. I don’t know if Cousins is an upgrade over Jimmy G. When they’re both healthy, are we sure that Cousins is that big of an upgrade for what it’s going to cost?”
"I don't know that Cousins is an upgrade over Jimmy G.. When they're both healthy are we sure Cousins is that big of an upgrade for whatever it's going to cost?"@RapSheet doesn't think we'll see Shanahan try & reunite with Kirk Cousins #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/4fER9VI4zc— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 1, 2021
Cousins threw for 4,265 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 picks last season. The 32-year-old ranked third in yards per completion, and his 63.2 QBR was 18th best among all quarterbacks.
Shanahan was with the Washington Football Team when it drafted Cousins in 2012 and spent two seasons together before Shanahan was let go at the end of the 2013 campaign.
San Francisco was rumored to be interested in signing Cousins as a free agent after the 2017 season. But Lynch made a deal to acquire Garoppolo in October of 2017, and when he led a bad Niners squad to a 5-0 finish, the organization committed to Jimmy G.
Cousins’ cap hit is $4.6 million more than Garoppolo’s next season. It might not be a ton, but given the NFL’s cap crunch due to the pandemic, those funds could be used to sign some cheap veteran players.
Rapaport was joined by former NFL QB Safe Rosenfels who also questioned Cousins’ ceiling. Rosenfels hopped on Matt Maiocco’s podcast and talked about why he doesn’t think Cousins is one of the best signal-callers in the game (h/t NBC Bay Area):
“Kirk is just one of those guys, where if you look at his stats, it always looks like Kirk had a pretty good game,” Rosenfels said. “(But) he never makes anyone else better. He never makes that right guard better. He never makes that left tackle better.”
Until we get a final answer the rumor mill and hot takes will continue to question what San Francisco will do at QB. Cousins has proven to more durable than Garoppolo, only missing one start over the past six seasons compared to the 23 Jimmy G has in the last three years.
Garoppolo also helped the 49ers win the NFC after going 13-3 in 2019. In his only full season as a starter, Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 picks and had the team within eight minutes of winning the Super Bowl.
Here is where Garoppolo ranked among all QBs in some key passing stats from the 2019 campaign:
69.1 completion percentage (No. 4)
8.3 average yards per attempt No. 9)
12.1 yards per completion (tied for No. 4)
7.22 average net yards per attempt (No. 10)
102.0 quarterback rating (No. 8)
Four game-winning drives (tied for No. 2)
No one is going to mistake either Garoppolo or Cousins for a top-five NFL quarterback. If the 49ers have to move draft picks for Cousins, is the “upgrade” worth the cost?
Lynch and Shanahan have done what any good leadership group would do, looking at every possible way to improve the team. They decided against trying to meet Detroit’s asking price for Stafford, leaving Jimmy G as their only option for 2021 as of now.
Deshaun Watson is the biggest domino left to fall, and unless San Francisco is willing to give up the farm to get him, it looks like Garoppolo will be the guy in Week 1.
San Francisco could look to draft a QB at No. 12, who could learn behind Jimmy G while providing insurance if Garoppolo suffers another long-term injury.
Either way, we will see how things play out in the coming weeks.