Grading the 49ers: Quarterbacks

Before: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien.

Grade: C+

Why: The Niners rolled the dice with two rookie backups last season – Kaepernick and Tolzien – who probably couldn’t have led last year’s team to the playoffs. So the Niners lucked out Alex Smith played all 18 games, even though he was inept on third down and in the red zone. Despite those iniquities, he still helped the team win the division and beat the Saints in the playoffs, so he was better than average. You could almost say he was good.

Now: Add Josh Johnson.

Grade: B.

Why: Now with Johnson, the Niners seem to have a serious backup who could also lead this juggernaut of a team to the playoffs, so an injury to Alex Smith wouldn’t necessarily sink the whole team as it would have last season. If he doesn’t get hurt, Smith should improve with another year of practicing under Harbaugh and with all the new weapons around him on offense.

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