Now that he’s overseeing his own roster in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan seemingly has been connected to every quarterback he has coached along the way.
Perhaps the most popular theory is that Shanahan will make a serious run at free agent Kirk Cousins, even if it means surrendering a pair of first-round picks should the Redskins apply the franchise tag to their quarterback.
Shanahan has been an avowed Cousins booster going back nearly a half-decade. When Shanahan was running Cleveland’s offense and Robert Griffin III was starting in Washington three years ago, the Browns tried to swing a trade for Cousins.
After hearing Shanahan’s Friday interview with KNBR-AM in San Francisco, though, it certainly doesn’t appear that he’s fixating on Cousins as the 49ers’ quarterback.
“You’re not trying to commit everything to one year,” Shanahan explained, via CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “Yes, you want to win right away. That’s the goal of everybody. But you don’t want to do that at the expense of hurting your future.
“You don’t want to gamble. You want to be aggressive in everything, but you got to do what’s right. You have to build your team the right way and that’s what I mean by being patient.”
Shanahan added that he and general manager John Lynch will explore trades, free agency and the draft to rebuild the 49ers, but he also understands this roster isn’t ready to compete for a division title even with an established quarterback under center.
If he’s unable to acquire a veteran quarterback via trade or free agency, Shanahan insists he will not reach for one with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“If there is a quarterback there that we believe can match that criteria,” Shanahan said, “and we believe he can be a franchise quarterback for us, of course, you don’t hesitate on that.
“But if you don’t see that and there are other good players — if there’s a pass-rusher, a linebacker, if there’s an O-lineman, whatever it is — you need to get the best player possible who can help your team for the next 10 years.”
Shanahan has a wide, six-year berth to turn this franchise around.
He has already coaxed the best out of Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III, Brian Hoyer and Matt Ryan in four different stops as an NFL offensive coordinator. There’s no need to mortgage the future in a desperate attempt to pull off a Cousins heist.