Shanahan signals openness to 49ers acquiring dual-threat QB


It's no secret that 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wanted Kirk Cousins to join him in Santa Clara. 

It should've been no surprise, either, considering the type of quarterback Shanahan has largely worked with in his career.

Shanahan coached the current Minnesota Vikings quarterback as the Washington Football Team's offensive coordinator in 2012 and '13, as Cousins appeared in eight games -- starting four -- during those two seasons.

Brian Hoyer started 13 games for the Cleveland Browns during Shanahan's lone season as offensive coordinator in 2014, and Shanahan coached Matt Ryan over the next two seasons -- including Ryan's NFL MVP win in 2016 -- in the same position with the Atlanta Falcons.

Outside of 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III and fellow former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for two starts, Shanahan has predominantly had a pocket passer as his quarterback. Even Donovan McNabb, who once ran 86 times for 639 yards in a single season, limited his rushes when he played for Shanahan in 2010. McNabb carried the ball 29 times for 151 yards that season.

Shanahan has continued to coach pocket passers with the 49ers, even as the team has faced and struggled against plenty of dual-threat quarterbacks. Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and, most recently, Josh Allen have all proven difficult to stop, gaining yards on the ground and through the air.

So, could Shanahan change his approach to the position? Shanahan said Wednesday that he'd be open to a mobile QB as long as he's equally proficient as an accurate passer, and that style of play isn't as important as overall ability.

“Things change, people change,” Shanahan said. “You start to see you can win football games with any type of quarterback as long as they are good enough and you can be good enough in hundreds of different ways. 

“So, I evaluate quarterbacks in terms of trying to find people who can have a chance to be one of those elite-type guys and there's lots of different ways to do it. You can see now there's plenty of different ways, so I don't think that'll ever change.” 

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Since arriving in Santa Clara, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have leaned toward pocket passers. They determined Colin Kaepernick wasn't a fit for Shanahan's offense in 2017 and told him that he'd be released if he didn't opt out of his contract, which Kaepernick did in March. The 49ers selected C.J. Beathard in the third round of the NFL draft nearly two months later, signing Nick Mullens as an undrafted free agent days later. Midway through the 2017 season, the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo.

The 49ers can trade or release Garoppolo with minimal financial penalties this offseason, while Beathard can become an unrestricted free agent and Mullens could be a restricted one. They could, if they choose, revamp the quarterback room around a different style of play.

Still Shanahan believes that there isn’t a specific blueprint for a successful QB in the NFL.

“I don't think you have one certain thing you're looking for,” Shanahan said.”You're just trying to find a guy who is better than about 98-percent of the people on this planet or in this country and when you find that, you get him and you adjust to him.

"I don't know if it's because I'm a head coach, but how I evaluate everything is always changing."

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