There is little question the 49ers are interested in signing undrafted quarterback Adam Froman to a free-agent contract when the NFL lockout ends.
The unanswered question: Is the former Louisville quarterback interested in signing with the 49ers?
In regards to his likely NFL suitors, Froman conceded this week that he’s “leaning one way,” but didn’t divulge what direction that is.
The 49ers, Dolphins and Falcons called the Santa Rosa native on the final day of the draft and expressed interest in selecting him. Froman believes the calls were inspired by the lockout. Since teams couldn’t contact potential rookie free agents after the draft, they did so during their brief window of opportunity.
After the draft, Jim Harbaugh said there was a specific quarterback the Niners hoped to sign as an undrafted free agent. When I asked Harbaugh about Froman he smiled and put a hand to his mouth. The message: His lips were sealed.
Due to the ongoing lockout, Froman has spent the past month-and-a-half in limbo. But it’s also given the student who graduated with 3.83 GPA and scored a 39 on his Wonderlic a chance to do more homework. Froman has consulted with his agent and a variety of NFL contacts for what is, in effect, a potentially career-defining research project: Which team to choose?
“There’s pluses and minuses to each team involved,” Froman said. “And it’s hard because you’ve got to look at a lot of factors. Do they keep two or three active quarterbacks? What’s their percentage of free agents brought in who are kept? What quarterbacks do they have on their roster now? What are their strengths? Who’s the offensive coordinator and what kind of offense do they run? Who’s the head coach – what does he look like as quarterback coach? There’s just so much that goes into it.”
Based on one key item on his checklist – quarterbacks currently on the roster – the Dolphins appear to be the best landing spot for the 6-4, 220-pound Froman.
The quarterbacks in Miami? Chad Henne (75.4 rating in 2010), 34-year-old Chad Pennington (rehabbing from his latest injury, a torn ACL suffered March 31), Tom Brandstater (0 career pass attempts) and Tyler Thigpen, who is a potential free agent.
The path to meaningful playing time appears more daunting in San Francisco where Alex Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick, who will be groomed to be the quarterback of the future, will likely occupy the top two spots.
Complicating Froman’s decision is an unknown. What moves will teams make once the lockout ends? What if, for example, Philadelphia’s sure-to-be-shopped quarterback Kevin Kolb lands in Miami?
“I can make a decision based on right now who’s listed on a team’s roster, but when this lockout ends I’m not the only free-agent quarterback out there,” Froman said. “They could be talking to another veteran quarterback that they want to bring in also. They could bring him in right afterwards and that would probably change my decision. So right now it’s so up in the air. I can’t nail that down.
“Once the lockout ends, I’m going to have to take a leap of faith and just hope for the best and work my butt off once I get into a camp. And we’ll see where the chips fall. As of right now, I am kind of leaning one way and I’m hoping that that doesn’t change once the lockout ends.”
• Froman has been working out in Louisville with a contingent of former Cardinals that includes quarterbacks Brian Brohm (Bills) and Hunter Cantwell (Ravens). Their throwing sessions have featured Louisville alums in fullback Joe Tronzo (Titans) and wide receiver Chris Vaughn, who signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and was later waived.
• Froman’s 39 Wonderlic score is the second-highest reported score among quarterbacks, ranking behind Alabama’s Greg McElroy (43). Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien, who was undrafted, and Idaho’s Nathan Enderle, a fifth-round pick of the Bears, both scored a 38. McElroy was drafted by the Jets in the seventh round.