By Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — While D.C. sports fans were riding the emotional roller coaster of the Washington Nationals’ postseason and the Washington Capitals’ hot start to the regular season, the Bay Area was fixated on what a future might look like with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.

The connection is obvious and well-documented: Cousins is a free agent at season’s end and there will be multiple suitors, not the least of which is his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

The two square off on Sunday, but the results hardly matter: Shanahan doesn’t have to guess how Cousins thinks and reacts, he already knows. And to boil Sunday down to an audition would ignore literally years of film.

Plus, whether Cousins can or can’t beat the 49ers defense is inconsequential if he’s playing quarterback for them next season.

So what is Cousins thinking about before a game like this? He spoke with the San Fran media earlier this week, and his comments got more play than your average opposing quarterback’s conference call.

And if you’re looking for Cousins to tip his hand about his future, think again.

“There’s just so much to do between now and then,” he said, brushing off any suggestion of thinking ahead. “This league is so challenging. It’s about right now. And it’s about doing all I can right now to hopefully be in a position to where Washington won’t let me leave, or doesn’t want to leave because I’ve done my job. So that’s where my focus lies. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Like evading a blitzing linebacker, Cousins dodged that question.

The 49ers have played well this season, including a shootout with Shanahan’s former prodigy in Sean McVay, now head coach for the L.A. Rams. Unfortunately for the ‘9ers, they’ve come out on the losing end of every game so far, even by the slimmest of margins.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer was never expected to be the long-term solution, but he also hasn’t been the biggest of their concerns. If he continues to play well, he could play himself into another season in San Francisco while the team uses a high draft pick to draft his replacement.

Indeed, talent evaluators may not be just comparing Cousins to other available free agents and Hoyer, but also every draftable quarterback coming out of college.

In short, it’s a complex equation with lots of moving parts. Cousins could surge, flame out, get injured or win a Super Bowl.

So while he put his best moves on the media’s question, he’s also right: Sunday is just one more step into a very uncertain future. And given how he has handled contract negotiations with the Redskins, he’s probably just fine with that.


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