5 Backup Quarterbacks the 49ers Should Consider


Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks for a receiver against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter of the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Well Trent Baalke, now what? You look like a genius for the return you got on Alex Smith. In March. How good will you look if Colin Kaepernick goes down and all we have is Scott Tolzien and a rookie QB on the roster? This is a legitimate Super Bowl team, but only if it is provided that Kaepernick starts.

Colin Kaepernick has already displayed a willingness to take on would-be tacklers with his shoulders lowered. That instinct has to be drilled out of him before a LB drills him out of a game. If he’s down for any significant period of time, or if he misses a playoff start, the 49ers chances of advancing to the Super Bowl diminish greatly.

Harbaugh clearly was in Alex’s head to take sacks, don’t turn it over, and play safe. Kaepernick should have his own set of guidelines, including sliding or running out of bounds when necessary. (AKA, don’t pull an Alex!)

So what are the options? From what we’ve read, Scott Tolzien is your typical drop back pocket passer. Only Harbaugh and his staff truly know how ready he is to step in and assume control of the team this year. If they are comfortable with that prospect, then the 49ers are set at back-up QB, and need only to draft a third QB, possibly in the mobile prototype embodied by Kaepernick for offensive continuity.

I’m going to assume Tolzien is not the answer.

If I were Baalke, I’d look for a QB who has NFL experience and who plays with some of the same style as Kaepernick. In my personal order from greatest to least, here are the five most attractive targets:

Seneca Wallace – I mentioned him in a previous post. He is very versatile and can line up as a WR or RB, possibly adding wrinkles to the team’s already complicated and diverse offensive sets. He’s started and won plenty of games.

Tim Tebow – How about Tebow AND Revis? Tebow has won a playoff game and has all the intangibles. He is a leader in the huddle, a load of a runner, and while still inaccurate, perhaps Harbaugh’s “quarterback whisperer” skills could smooth out that issue out.

Bruce Gradkowski – Raider fans remember him fondly. He’s a gamer, and his scrappy style fits the mold of a back-up QB who might only need to finish a game or steward the team through a 2-4 week injury. While likely too small to run the ball out of the pistol frequently, he is an athletic QB with a winning attitude.

Josh Johnson – Harbaugh has a history with this QB. Is that enough to trust him as the #2?

Troy Smith – As a starter for the 49ers a few years ago, he seemed over his head, but as the back-up he played with confidence and bravado. Athletic and strong-armed, the unsigned QB is familiar with the team and many of the players.

Vince Young – Better than most? Probably not since his days at Texas, but he’s big and fast.