Kirk Cousins will see a familiar face on the opposing sideline when he takes the field at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday for his regular-season debut in Purple.
The Vikings will kick off their 2018 season at noon (CT) when they host the 49ers, who are coached by Kyle Shanahan.
Shanahan, entering his second season as San Francisco’s head coach, served as the Redskins offensive coordinator from 2010-13. Washington drafted Cousins in the fourth round in 2012 after selecting Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.
“I knew he wasn’t expecting to be there in the fourth. That’s why we kind of fell into him, because we had such a high grade on him,” Shanahan told Twin Cities media members via conference call earlier this week. “I think that was tough on him.”
Shanahan went on to praise Cousins’ work ethic and approach to the situation, however, saying he gave 100 percent even though he wasn’t the starter.
“Just the way Kirk was in meetings … the way he worked each week, the way he didn’t sit there and sulk even though it wasn’t the best situation for him,” Shanahan said. “His technique, learning offenses, not just watching us but watching everybody.
“He showed that he had talent, but he also showed that he had the mindset, that you could tell this guy was only going to get better once he got some experience and some reps.”
Cousins took over the starting job partway through the 2014 season and was Washington’s full-time guy from 2015-17. In March, Cousins signed with the Vikings in free agency.
Shanahan said he’s happy for Cousins’ new opportunity in Minnesota.
“I felt like he’s the guy who gave [the Redskins] a chance to win for about four years,” Shanahan said. “So, I was really happy for him doing that and I’m even happier that he’s out of there doing it for someone else.”
He added: “I just hope it’s not Sunday.”
Here are other highlights from the 49ers talking about the Vikings this week:
Shanahan on Vikings front seven:
“Everson Griffen is definitely a great rusher, but it’s all those guys and the linebackers and the way it is in that building with the noise. If you become one-dimensional, whether it’s on third down or you get behind too much and they know you have to throw and they know when it’s coming, that would be tough. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our tackles that they’ll do as good a job as anyone, but you can’t do it on your own. We’ve got to stay balanced and we’ve got to make sure it’s the right type of game where we can.”
Shanahan on respect for Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer:
“Any time you’ve gone against people a number of times – sometimes when they have great personnel, sometimes when they have average or below – I’ve just played him at a number of places over the years, and those coordinators that you see go to different spots but continue to always have the same identity, continue to be very sound, it’s very hard to mess them up. They always play hard. That’s why they’re always ranked pretty good. When that guy has good players, you know he’s going to be up there in the top 5. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and it’s been that way for a while.”
CB Richard Sherman on Vikings WRs
“[Stefon Diggs is] a good route runner. He’s very detailed in regards to his depths and how he manipulates the route. [Adam] Thielen, the same way. He’s got great hands, a very deliberative route runner, reliable, consistent – those are things that they’ve always done well in Minnesota. They have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, so looking forward to the challenge.”
LB Fred Warner on what he expects from Vikings offense
Warner was asked about how he expects the Vikings offense to run under Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo, who was the Eagles quarterbacks coach last season.
“We’re watching a lot of the Philadelphia Eagles film, and they use their backs in a lot of different ways – not only in the run game but in the pass game, as well as utilizing their RPO game. So just making sure we’re hitting on all cylinders and making sure everything’s good to go for the game.”
Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh on Cousins
“With Kirk, whenever you get a quarterback like Kirk, where just the precision and the efficiency at which they operate, their timing – he elevates everyone just by making things go more efficiently, being pinpoint with his accuracy. He’s an elite quarterback, and having him is going to be beneficial for them.”