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San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Thursday Night Football, Jared Goff
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One of these guys may be keeping the seat warm for Kirk Cousins, and right now it looks like it’s not Jared Goff. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Of all teams and of all nights, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night momentarily put to rest the NFL’s issues with dull football and heinous midweek games. The Rams beat the Niners in a 41-39 thriller, the third NFL game with at least 80 points since the start of last season. It’s no coincidence the explosion happened between Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two youthful and creative head coaches.
The game provided intrigue unto itself, but there was a subplot underneath the action, and it stemmed from those coaches. Before the season, the game could have been labeled The Kirk Cousins Bowl.
Both McVay and Shanahan coached Cousins during their tenures as Redskins’ offensive coordinators, and both are known Cousins admirers. Both appeared to be potential suitors for Cousins in the upcoming offseason, in the event the Redskins do not sign him to an extension or place a third consecutive franchise tag on him at the price of $34.5 million. McVay had a former first overall pick whose confidence had been shattered in his rookie season. Shanahan had a stopgap in Brian Hoyer.
[Rams-49ers on ‘TNF’ was far more entertaining than anyone expected]
Thursday night’s performance, then, further shifted the 49ers into the driver’s seat to sign Cousins should he become available. It is a long season, but it appears McVay has already found his quarterback in Jared Goff. Against the 49ers, Goff completed 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. For the season, Goff has completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 817 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.
Goff has been so good that the Rams, at this point, should no longer be considered suitors for Cousins. Despite Hoyer throwing for more than 300 yards, the same is not true for the 49ers. Hoyer is a journeyman who has had success in limited chances, but he’s nobody’s idea of a franchise quarterback. If the Rams are set with Goff, it gives the 49ers the inside track to pursue Cousins.
This is, of course, all highly speculative. Plenty of teams will need a quarterback this offseason, the 2018 Redskins included, and so the 49ers will still have plenty of competition for Cousins should he reach free agency. There’s still 13 games left for Goff to disprove his excellent start. But Thursday night’s game boosted the 49ers’ odds over the Rams, because it further reduced the likelihood the Rams would need a quarterback