As expected, quarterback Kirk Cousins and Washington failed to reach a long-term deal Monday, opening the door for Cousins to become a free agent next season.
That means the 49ers – in the market for a franchise quarterback and with plenty of salary-cap space to play with in 2018 – could be a leading candidate for his services.
Certainly, he gives the 49ers a strong option next season.
But as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com noted Tuesday, Cousins is just one of many options the 49ers will have next season at quarterback.
Among those options:
First, Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is expected to hit free agency in 2018.
Second, the draft. The Niners could pluck a top-echelon passer such as Wyoming’s Josh Allen or USC’s Sam Darnold, who rank at the top of the class going into next season.
Third, it could turn out the 49ers believe in Hoyer or third-round pick C.J. Beathard. If that’s the case, the team could spend big on other areas of the roster that need strengthening around Hoyer or Beathard – which in turn might make them more effective.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wrote Monday night, if Hoyer plays well in 2017, he actually could be a good solution for 2018 and beyond.
“If he has a solid season in San Francisco, some will wonder why the 49ers should spend big on Cousins, who is 19-22-1 as an NFL starter, when they have an adequate and far-cheaper option in Hoyer (as well as a player similar to Cousins in rookie C.J. Beathard) already in the organization,” wrote Barrows.
But, the Cousins-to-49ers projections will no doubt remain hot all the way through 2017, even though San Francisco will have other options.
Wrote Wagoner: “On paper, Cousins to the 49ers still looks like a strong possibility, one that became more realistic in light of Monday’s news. But it’s still not a sure thing. The 49ers spent much of this offseason positioning themselves to do what’s necessary to get a franchise quarterback in 2018. What happens over the next seven-or-so months will go a long way toward determining whether that quarterback is Cousins or somebody else.”