49ers Offseason

Florio foresees 49ers-Rams ‘tug of war' for Cousins next year

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As the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams both look to finish atop the NFC West in 2023, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio predicts the two NFL teams will be competing for the same quarterback come 2024.

Kirk Cousins has been linked to Kyle Shanahan since the latter became San Francisco's coach in 2017. Considering Cousins and Shanahan's history with Washington -- with the latter being the former's offensive coordinator for two seasons -- Florio believes they could reunite in the Bay Area -- if the veteran signal-caller doesn't land with the Rams first. 

"I think you're going to see -- unless the Vikings re-sign him by then, and they can't use the franchise tag on him the way his contract is structured -- you're going to see a potential tug of war between Kyle Shanahan and [Rams coach] Sean McVay for Kirk Cousins next March," Florio said Thursday on "The Rich Eisen Show" (h/t 49ers Webzone). "Mark that down."

The 49ers remain optimistic second-year quarterback Brock Purdy will recover from elbow surgery in time to play Week 1 in 2023, and they have both Trey Lance and Sam Darnold set to compete for the backup job in training camp. There's no telling how the campaign will play out, however, and Florio believes San Francisco could use Cousins' services next year when he's slated to become a free agent.

Cousins helped the Minnesota Vikings win the NFC North at 13-4 in 2022, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 4,547 yards, 29 touchdowns and a career-high 14 interceptions. The 34-year-old has remained relatively healthy throughout his career, something that might pique the interest of both the 49ers and Rams.

Matthew Stafford came to Los Angeles in 2021 with a storied injury history and missed eight games in 2022, and Cousins' skill set could make sense in McVay's offense as the coach is a product of the Shanahan coaching tree. But Stafford is signed with the Rams through 2026, so the logistics don't quite make sense unless those retirement rumors came true.

And while the 49ers Faithful might not think Cousins coming to the Bay makes sense given two younger, cheaper options for the future in Purdy and Lance, it isn't the first time Florio has pointed out the rumored connection.

"Apparently, at the scouting combine there was some chatter, there was some noise, among people within the broader league structure, not the media, but people in the league about Cousins being traded to the 49ers," Florio said in late March. "That was a hot topic at one point in Indianapolis."

Dating all the way back to 2017, it looks like the Shanahan-Cousins rumors might not ever come to an end. But in the meantime, the 49ers have 2023 to focus on -- and an entirely different battle with McVay, the Rams and the rest of the NFC West.

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