Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Enough with Kirk Cousins. Let This Year’s Roster Prove Itself.

Bret Rumbeck
Jul 18, 2017 at 9:43 AM

San Francisco 49ers fans who watched Joe Montana and Steve Young are forever spoiled when it comes to who is barking signals behind center. Our expectations are higher than any other fan in the NFL; we expect greatness, MVP awards, perfect three-step drops from feet in LA Gear cleats, passes that hit slant routes in stride and hanging 55 points on all Super Bowl opponents.

Since Young retired, we've been waiting on a quarterback to float down from Heaven and fill these double-laced cleats. Sure, we saw flashes of brilliance from Jeff Garcia, Alex Smith, and Colin Kaepernick. But these men did not add a new silver trophy to the case, and in the fans' eyes, that's a failure. This season, unless aliens give Brian Hoyer a super-suit that grants him other-worldly talent, he will not bring this team to eight or more wins, let alone a championship.

All this leads to a fresh round of Kirk Cousins speculation, but this time for the 2018 season. The 49ers haven't completed a single training camp warm-up jog and ugly rumors about Cousins donning a gold helmet next season are destroying the Internet. This story, like bad teenage acne, simply will not go away.

There are no quotes from Kyle Shanahan stating his intense love for Cousins, the quarterback's brilliance, or how Shanahan is prepared to pay any price or bear any burden to have Cousins behind center. 49ers fans from far and wide have suffered through endless offseason speculation about an impending Cousins move to the Mission City.

Nobody can discount the numbers Cousins put up over the last two seasons. He's thrown for just over 9,000 yards, tossed 54 touchdowns, and completed 68.4-percent of his passes. These are jaw-dropping statistics, despite a 17-14-1 record. Additionally, Cousins' success has been in an offense developed by Jay Gruden and Sean McVay, not Kyle Shanahan.

Under Shanahan, Cousins had four starts resulting in one win and three losses. Over those four games, Cousins was 114 for 203 – a 56.2-percent completion percentage – with eight touchdowns and ten interceptions. Cousins looked good in his first win against the Atlanta Falcons on December 16, 2012, but looked dreadful in a game against the New York Giants on December 29, 2013. He completed 19-of-49 passes that day for 169 yards. As Washington's offensive coordinator, Shanahan never a made a comment about Cousins being the best quarterback for his offense.

In fact, before Washington fired the Shanahans at the end of the 2013 season, Kyle Shanahan scoffed at starting Cousins over Robert Griffin III. At the end of a Washington press conference on December 12, 2013, a reporter asked Kyle Shanahan "… no matter what happens in the next three weeks, you're still really confident that, come Week 1 next year (Robert) Griffin reverting back to 2012 is your guy."

Shanahan's response?

It's ridiculous to act like this is a quarterback competition. Robert just had the best year as a rookie in NFL history. To give up on him and say you can play someone else? To me, that's fun for people to talk about. It hasn't entered my brain... it's not even a possibility or option to me.

This year, the 49ers were prepared to enter the offseason without a quarterback on the roster. With Cousins set to become an unrestricted free agent and Shanahan's hire on February 6, the rumors of a reunion made sense. The team needed a veteran quarterback, and even if Shanahan's offense had evolved since his time with Washington, Cousins could step into an ideal situation. Bringing in old man Matt Schaub would have enraged the fan base, and Matt Ryan wasn't leaving Atlanta. However, a deal with Cousins didn't work out in February, March, or on draft day, and it looked like he would not wear 49er red.

Over the past week, the Cousins-to-the-49ers story emerged from the Lazarus Pit, but with a new angle. According to sources and everyone but a 49ers coach or executive, the 49ers were eyeing Cousins for the 2018 season. We have a full season of football ahead of us. The 49ers' fate has not been written yet, so why the continued intense pipe-dream on Cousins?

I'm all for the 49ers having an eye on the future, whether that be draft picks, trades, releases or rebuilding strategy. But I'm not supportive of looking past this season and investing a high dollar on an unproven quarterback who's been touted as the Second Coming.

It's high time to move on from the Kirk Cousins fantasy. If the girl you want to take to prom turns you down three times, there's no sense in continuing to knock on the door. At some point, her dad's going to chase you off the steps with a motorcycle chain and a broken pint of vodka. In our case, Washington continues to use its franchise tag on Cousins, forbidding him to talk with other teams and creating an artificially inflated monetary value on a 19-win quarterback.

Enough is enough. John Lynch needs to make this situation die a much-needed death and release a statement that counters the endless Cousins rumors. Let's live in this season – not a speculative 2018 free agent market – and allow this year's roster prove itself as winners or losers.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • gw2
    "Do you think the 49ers should sign Cousins at some point, or should Shanahan find a new quarterback to build his legacy?" I think Cousins is young enough to be Shanny's legacy QB. They've already worked together, so there's even a head start. Shanny can still develop others even with Cousins at the helm.
    Jul 24, 2017 at 4:47 PM
  • gw2
    Cousins' numbers were actually elite these last two years. And that's without a defense or a running game. There are plenty of Shanahan/Cousins compliments on record, but not lately, since tampering can cost your team draft picks. The most recent one probably Shanahan commenting that his draft pick CJBeathard reminds him of Cousins. The absolute best thing for the 49ers would be if Beathard somehow turned out to be awesome. It's happened before, both to the 49ers and to the Seahawks, that a 3rd rounder turned out awesome. However, the odds are against it. Failing that, I am all in on Cousins. He's good, he's experienced, he's in his prime, and best of all he would not cost us anything in terms of draft capital. So he'll get a lot of money, so what. Jed's rich and we have the cap room. Alternatively we could chase a Sam Darnold, spend multiple high picks getting him, and then waiting for him to learn the game. No, I'll take Cousins, and I think we could be competitive with him in 2018.
    Jul 23, 2017 at 5:00 PM
    Response: Thanks for reading. I agree on the numbers Cousins put up over the last two seasons. 9000 yards passing and the completion percentage are certainly statistics the 49ers have wanted for years. I understand Shanahan can't comment directly on Cousins now. But in the past, there was not a celebration of Cousins running the offense. Do you think the 49ers should sign Cousins at some point, or should Shanahan find a new quarterback to build his legacy?
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Cousins sucks and is overpriced. Move on.
    Jul 19, 2017 at 9:03 AM
  • Nick
    I agree all this Cousins talk is way too much. Personally I think he is overrated and overpaid... We are better off drafting a top 10 QB in next years draft in the long run. I doubt he would put up better numbers than Hoyer can under Shanahan...
    Jul 19, 2017 at 8:43 AM
  • Chris
    Wow. Talk about drinking the Kool aid. Every single one of you read this article and went "Yeah! Screw Kirk Cousins! We don't need him!" and just basically agreed cause it's a well written bashing of someone on another team. When he does sign next off-season you all will be screaming about him being the next Montana. I think we do need to focus on this season, but there's nothing wrong with fantasizing about what might be a year from now. Like, how we'll potentially sign Terrell Pryor who ironically signed a one year deal to play with Cousins. One last thing, the stats listed here are irrelevant. They were his 1st 4 starts in the NFL and of course Kyle would say that about his then future star and then face of the franchise. It's okay to dream, especially about a proven starter vs a rookie QB that wouldn't provide us a chance and "silver trophies" for another 3 years.
    Jul 18, 2017 at 3:45 PM
    Response: Thanks for reading. I don't think I bashed Cousins or his last two seasons. His record is average and hasn't won a playoff game. But throwing for 4,900 yards is a big deal. The 49ers could use a quarterback who completes 68 percent of his passes. We're eight months until March 2018. Anything can happen to the 49ers and Cousins this fall, so all we're reading is rumor and speculation. It's not helpful to the guys on the team right now. I'd suggest you take a listen to the latest 49ers Webzone podcast. Al Sacco provides similar reasoning why the Cousins discussion right now isn't necessary.
  • Matt
    It would be foolish for Lynch to take any options off of the table by making a statement like you suggest. Lynch should just keep giving the standard answer: "We are always looking for ways to improve this team, but I can't comment on a player under contract with another team."
    Jul 18, 2017 at 10:51 AM
    Response: Hi Matt. Thanks for reading. As I said, I'm supportive of improving the team. But I want management to focus on the art of the probable for this season, not eight months from now.

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