SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Theismann said he thinks Kirk Cousins is the future in Washington and will be the next quarterback to bring the franchise back to the Super Bowl. The reason?

“He has to be,” Theismann told Newsday on Tuesday at the Super Bowl. “I don’t know where you go after that.”

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Cousins wasn’t always the answer. He was drafted the same year Washington traded a load of future picks to the Browns to get Robert Griffin III. Griffin burst on the scene, but injuries and questions about his technique led to his benching. It was Cousins who steered Washington to the NFC East title this season.

Theismann, who quarterbacked the Redskins to the Super Bowl XVII title 33 years ago, said it was that “old-school” approach to developing Cousins that allowed him to flourish.

“We’re a quarterback-depleted league,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of quarterbacks, there aren’t a lot of young guys coming in. College football today is not training our young quarterbacks to come and play professional football. There is a learning process. Why has Kirk Cousins been able to do what he did? Because he sat for three years and learned the game. He came in the old-school way. And now you see what you get as a finished product. It’s a lot better.”

Close to Super Bowl-caliber?

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“I think we’ve started to build an excellent foundation going forward,” Theismann said. “You look at championship teams and you say: What are the important ingredients? Number one, I think you need an offensive line that can stay healthy. Number two, I think you need a quarterback who can play solid, good football for you. Number three, you need a defense that can carry you through tough situations. We’ve started to build those three areas with the Redskins, and to me that’s the big difference.”