49ers GM John Lynch initially hoped to land Kirk Cousins
When the Washington Redskins placed the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins for the second time last offseason, it became evident that he’d hit free agency this spring as likely the top signal-caller available. As the 2017 season played out, rumors of where he’d land began to pop up, including the San Francisco 49ers.
Of course, things turned out much differently. The Niners eventually pulled off a franchise-altering deal for Tom Brady’s backup with the New England Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo. He won his first five starts for San Francisco to close out the year, providing plenty of optimism heading into 2018. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins was courted by a number of franchises before signing a three year, fully-guaranteed $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings.
If San Francisco didn’t have Jimmy G, they’d make perfect sense as a destination for Cousins. They have a ton of cap space, and Shanahan initially identified the Michigan State product as a worthy prospect to select when he was still the offensive coordinator in Washington.
On Wednesday, general manager John Lynch confirmed those rumors, stating that Shanahan’s first choice before Garoppolo was indeed Cousins. Transcribed by Niners Wire’s Chris Biderman:
“We made the (Garoppolo) trade, but then there were some days when Kyle Shanahan was like in mourning, because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually,” Lynch said in an interview on ESPN Radio Wednesday. “I was proud of Kyle, because I think he knew this was the right thing for our franchise. And he didn’t hesitate. But even then, Jimmy had to really prove himself.”
Who knows if the 49ers would’ve actually landed Cousins in free agency, but given his history with Shanahan, it feels like a pretty safe bet. At this point, both sides are probably happy with how things turned out.