49ers’ QB depth a puzzle for the preseason

This is my Saturday column on the 49ers’ five quarterbacks.

SANTA CLARA – Five 49ers quarterbacks. Only three can make the team. Which three will it be?

We know Colin Kaepernick will make the team and start unless he breaks his leg or starts missing receivers by 30 yards and sailing passes into the stands.

That leaves two spots for four quarterbacks – 24-year-old former first round pick Blaine Gabbert, 25-year-old former undrafted free-agent McLeod Bethel-Thompson, 23-year-old undrafted free agent Kory Faulkner and 28-year-old former fourth round-pick Josh Johnson.

All four share key physical traits with Kaepernick. They’re tall – none is shorter than 6-3. They have strong arms – Bethel-Thompson could throw 70 yards in high school. And they run relatively fast for quarterbacks – Faulkner runs a 4.7 40-yard dash, Gabbert a 4.61 and Johnson a 4.53, same as Kaepernick.

Faulkner is a rookie and a long shot to make the 53-man final roster. He started three seasons at Southern Illinois University. He played poorly his first two seasons – he threw 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions and completed just 59 percent of his passes. He was not especially accurate and he was generally late on his throws.

He improved during his senior season. He threw 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and completed 61 percent of his passes in nine games before he broke a finger against North Dakota State and missed the rest of the season. He could earn a spot on the 49ers’ practice squad.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson was a member of the 49ers’ practice squad at the end of last season. He never has appeared in a regular-season NFL game, but he played in the preseason for the Vikings last year. He was pretty good. His quarterback rating was 83.8.

When he faced pressure, his quarterback rating plummeted to 39.6. And although he can run, he picked up only 10 yards on five rushing attempts. Bethel-Thompson probably will compete with Faulkner for a spot on the 49ers’ practice squad, although Bethel-Thompson has an outside chance to make the 49ers’ final roster. He already knows the 49ers’ playbook.

This offseason, the 49ers’ traded a sixth-round pick to the Jaguars for colossal disappointment Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguars drafted him with their first pick in 2011, drafted him instead of Colin Kaepernick whom the 49ers took in the second round. Now, Gabbert is fighting to be Kaepernick’s backup. Funny how things change in three years.

Gabbert is still just 24 years old, and he has talent. But the Jaguars may have ruined him. He started 27 games for them and got sacked 74 times. Last season, he threw seven interceptions during three starts before the Jaguars benched him for the rest of the season.

He seems shell-shocked. He doesn’t step up in the pocket and he throws off his back foot when he faces pressure. Most of the time, he throws the ball as quickly as possible to avoid getting hit. During last year’s preseason, he took 1.98 seconds on average to get the ball and throw it. That was the fastest in the NFL. When he held onto the ball for 2.6 seconds or longer during the 2013 regular season, he was even worse. His passer rating was more like a really good figure-skating score: 13.9.

Unfortunately for Gabbert, the 49ers’ offense asks the quarterback to hold onto the ball for a long time while slower possession receivers run the downfield routes Jim Harbaugh prefers. Last season, Kaepernick held the ball for 3.08 seconds on average before throwing. The season before, Alex Smith held the ball for 2.89 seconds on average before throwing. If Gabbert can’t hang tough in the pocket for three seconds, he can’t run the 49ers’ offense.

Josh Johnson loves to hold onto the ball in the pocket. He held it for 2.92 seconds on average for the Bengals during the preseason last year. And he played pretty well overall – his passer rating was 83.9.

Like Gabbert and Bethel-Thompson, Johnson’s numbers plummeted under pressure. In fact, Gabbert, Bethel-Thompson and Johnson are similar – hard throwers who aren’t particularly accurate and struggle under pressure.

Johnson differentiates himself from the others with his running. He wants to run and he’s good at it. During the preseason last year, he rushed 12 times for 131 yards.

Johnson tried out for the 49ers in 2012 and didn’t make the team. He was one of the final cuts. “Coming here the last time, I felt like I was in the process of developing as a quarterback,” Johnson said in the 49ers’ media trailer on Friday. “Now, I feel like I’m past the developmental stage of my career.”

Johnson didn’t fit the 49ers’ offense back then, either. Alex Smith, a traditional pocket quarterback, was the starter. Now the starter is Kaepernick, an athletic, running quarterback like Johnson.

“Once I talked to the coaches, they said they do things that fit my skill set at little bit more,” Johnson said. “When I was here last time, the whole athletic quarterback deal wasn’t as big as it is now.”

Well, here’s the real deal. If something happens to Kaepernick during a game next season and the 49ers need to replace him, Johnson is the only backup who can run the same plays as Kaepernick – the rollouts, the zone-reads, the designed runs. The 49ers wouldn’t have to change a thing for Johnson.

Johnson probably will make the team.

The other three? Draw straws.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 136 Comments

  1. I think there is a real chance Johnson is the #2 this season, and Gabbert doesn’t make the roster. But it will be another interesting position to follow throughout the off-season!

    1. That would come as a mild surprise, considering what the 49ers gave up to acquire Gabbert…..

      1. 49ers gave up a conditional 6th rd pick. If Blaine gets cut we get the pick back ;-)

    2. Yea I’d consider that a mild surprise, considering what the 49ers gave up in acquiring Gabbert……

      1. They gave up a 6th rounder. So what. They drafted a 1st rounder in AJ Jenkins. Well you know the rest

              1. Evidently people forgot that little detail on Gabbert’s contract.

                Gabbert stays.

              2. Kind of sounds similar to the Colt McCoy situation last year. Where they committed to him before they actually knew what he would produce. Then they ended up with a backup they could not trust the rest of the season. Seems like they make a lot of impulsive decisions in that respect. That 2 mil commitment might really come back to bite them big time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Blaine will be awful like McCoy, but it might mean that they would end up having to chose him over Johnson even though Johnson turned out to be better. Of course I can understand why they felt they had to lock in Blaine. Mainly because of the situation that they found themselves in last season.

        1. Actually if Blaine gets cut we gave up nothing. It is a conditional 6th rd pick

      2. As steelematic said, it was only a 6th rounder. His spot isn’t assured.

        Btw, when I say it is a real chance I don’t mean it is likely, but I think it is a genuine possibility. To put numbers on it, less than 50% but better than 10%. Johnson will be coming in with an understanding of the offense, and as Grant pointed out he won’t have the same mental scarring that Gabbert comes with.

          1. Wasn’t McCoy on a guaranteed money contract too? They got him to renegotiate – couldn’t have done that if he believed his spot was safe.

            If Gabbert isn’t in the top 3 QBs by end of TC, they won’t keep him just because he has a guaranteed contract.

            1. I’m not sure if McCoy was ever paid his 1.5 million before the renegotiation, whereas Gabbert has already been paid 2 million?

              1. Why would Gilbert have already received his $2 million base salary this season? 49ers didn’t owe him any bonuses, just has base salary, and I would assume he gets paid that over the course of the season, same as everyone else.

              2. The way I understand it is his 2 million is guaranteed leaving the 49ers with little leverage. Unless Gabbert were to agree to an extension reducing his base salary, with the idea of getting extra time with the quarterback whisperer……

              3. Yes, but they haven’t already paid him, which is what you said earlier Razor.

                I understand the guaranteed element, but if I’m not mistaken McCoy’s contract was guaranteed last year too, or at least a portion of it. They got him to renegotiate after they tried to trade him. And at the end of the day if he’s not in their top 3 QBs at end of TC, they won’t keep him regardless of if they still have to pay him out.

              4. Hmmm, after doing some digging it would appear McCoy didn’t have any guaranteed money left in his contract. Still, I doubt they hold onto Gabbert if he doesn’t show he deserves to be on the roster.

              5. McCoy had a much smaller guarantee to start with, and all the restructuring did was get the 49ers off the hook for some of his salary should they decide to cut him by converting salary to bonus based on being active on game day.

                Quite a bit different salary situation.

              6. They won’t cut a guy with a $2 mil guarantee. At worst he will be their #3.

              7. True, they could just keep him as the #3 if he doesn’t win the #2 role and have either Faulkner or Bethel-Thompson on the PS.

              8. Sorry for the confusion Scooter. My basic point was, if they owe him 2 million, they are not cutting him……

          2. Yeah, that fact seems to elude people. It’s as if the draft pick is the only consideration when it’s clearly not.

        1. Mental scarring? How quickly we forget what things were like around here pre-2011.

          1. Not at all Jack. But is Gabbert as mentally tough as Alex Smith? Or is he the new David Carr?

            1. All of these guys are mentally tough. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have reached this level.

              The talent level of the 49ers will make him look like the King Kong of mental toughness. Interesting how having good talent and coaching has that effect.

              1. Its a rather impressive generalisation that anyone that makes it to the NFL is mentally tough. I agree it shows a certain level of toughness and dedication to make it, but that doesn’t mean the self-confidence of these players can’t be shattered.

                Anyway, Gabbert may well look a whole lot better now he’s got a good supporting cast around him. Exactly what I said when we traded for him. However, I don’t think it is a lay down misere he’ll be able to stop jumping at shadows back there in the pocket.

              2. I’m not. I just think the “mental toughness” angle isn’t valid.

              3. More of a post-traumatic-stress issue from taking so many hits. Remember when Jim Everett sacked himself against the 49ers?

              4. Of course, but that was the result of all the hits Chris had taken that day. Not a year prior.

              5. “I just think the “mental toughness” angle isn’t valid”.

                Happens all the time in sports Jack. Guys lose their confidence over a period of time and if it is due to a persistent problem it can be tough to get it back. Doubts start to creep in. I would suggest 3 years of being beaten up is persistent.

                It takes a pretty special type of personality to just wash away that experience and start afresh. The “etch-a-sketch” idea that Harbaugh talks about. That Alex was able to do so was very impressive. I’m not saying Gabbert can’t do it, but its not a simple thing.

              6. The intestinal fortitude required by Alex after hearing the chant of Carr, was impressive. Just the fact that he returned took courage and a belief in himself…..

              7. What Alex put up with over his time at the 49ers, and the ability to sustain belief in himself that he would turn it around, was very impressive. Obviously Harbaugh had a massive influence on Alex’s ability to do so, but I don’t think that many players could go through what Alex did and come out the other side a better player.

              8. Oldtimers would remember Jim Plunkett who was so shell shocked after getting hammered on almost every play with NE that when he got to SF he would throw the ball into the ground when ever a player got to within 8ft of him. He was so bad that despite paying a huge price to get him the Niners just released him.It took one year of sitting on the Oakland bench before he got rid of the skidders and returned to the form that made him the top pick. It might take Blaine some time to break the bad habits that he has developed.

              9. “It’s cumulative.”

                Yeah, for that day. I used Smith as an example earlier. Another would be Aikman. He got his head kicked in for 2 years but things turned out ok. Steve Young in Tampa. Doug Williams in Tampa. I’m sure I could get a pretty decent list together if I wanted to put some effort into it.

              10. Not only for that day.

                There’s a decent list of quarterbacks who haven’t bounced back. I never said Gabbert definitely wouldn’t bounce back. I wrote the Jaguars may have ruined him. We’ll see. Gabbert is skittish in the pocket, throws off his back foot in pressure and tries to get rid of the ball so fast that he never has to see a pass rush. These are bad habits he developed from taking a beating. He may or may not drop these habits.

              11. He has the measurables, he had them coming out of college. Maybe he regains his confidence, maybe he doesn’t. This coaching staff is as good as any in the league right now developing QB’s. In telling ent, 6’5″ QB’s that run 4.6 don’t grow on trees.

        2. Well, as long as it’s all speculation, How about Gabbert duelng with CK for starter; JJ and Bethel-Thompson for the 3

  2. Gabbert will be playing behind real NFL players for the first time. The QB whisperer can fix a bunch of the kid’s problems. He could be a good QB with a real OL…

    1. The Jim Plunkett example I used in my previous post points out that it isn’t always that simple. Even when a QB is finally behind a good line does not guarantee that they will not still be effected mentally by the previous situation. The 49er line gave Jim Plunkett good protection but he was so jittery that he would throw the ball away way before it actually became necessary. Even when the condition that created a problem no longer exists there are still the residual mental consequences that linger and must also be overcome.

      1. Plunkett seemed to overcome those jitters just fine in Oakland.

        Being surrounded by a good team helps. Ask Aikman or Young.

        1. Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy, the Rookie of the Year award and the Comeback Player of the Year award. Gabbert never has had anywhere near that level off success in college or the pros. I wouldn’t bet on Gabbert being the next Plunkett, Aikman or Young. But that’s just me.

          1. I wouldn’t expect the backup to reach the Hall of Fame either, but those are just three.

            You can add guys like Dilfer and Maddox to that list as well.

            1. Maddox didn’t take a lot of hits when he was young, and he emerged when he was 30.

              If you think Gabbert can win a Super Bowl in his 20s like Dilfer did, you must like the trade.

      2. Back then the niners had the worst offensive line thats why Plunkett had the Jitters the Raiders had great protection for him and better coaching is why he sucseded

  3. If johnson isint the 2nd qb, that would meanhe really blew it, or Gabbert really stepped hos game up. The time for blaine to be the back up was during the alex smith campaign. Hell, we might not be discussing kap in year 2 as a starter. Whole new game plan for our qb now

  4. pretty good analysis.

    except this:

    Unfortunately for Gabbert, the 49ers’ offense asks the quarterback to hold onto the ball for a long time while slower possession receivers run the downfield routes Jim Harbaugh prefers

    The Niners offense usually has a shorter route available (even on the half field plays). Typically defenses are set up to force the read to go to the deeper option or Kaepernick will lock on and wait for his deeper 1st option to come open.

  5. Kaep will be the undisputed starter followed by Gabbert and then Johnson with Johnson probably taking over the #2 QB position by the middle of the season. Bethel-Thompson will be the odd man out with Faulkner making it onto the practice squad.

    1. If Gabbert is #2 to start the season, there is very little chance that Johnson takes his spot. The #3 qb gets absolutely zero reps, the #2 gets maybe a handful. The #3 qb is mainly running scout team, being the qb they will be facing (Wilson, Alex, Cutler, etc, etc), and running their plays, so no way he would do anything that would make him move up the roster. Johnsons shot is during TC and pre-season games, no other way.

  6. I’m going on a few paltry highlights, but I like what I see in Faulkner
    – Though not as fast as Kaep, he gouges teams when pass rush lanes get sloppy.
    – He has a fast release.
    – He runs an effective passing attack over the middle (the one hurdle many college QBs fail at when turning pro).
    – He’s overcome highlights music that would embarrassed Dirk Diggler. Where the heck did they get that sound track?

    No matter what QB plays, Roman will have to customize the play calling.

  7. Interesting read Grant. It gave me an insight into why David Fales was never a consideration. What I come away with from this read is that the Niners of right now want a backup QB to be very much like CK so they don’t miss a beat if when they have to step in.
    Fales would have been an opposite type to these guys and thus to CK. He is not as fast on his feet, not as tall and does not throw as deep. However he is gutsy in the pocket and hangs in there. He sees the field very well and due to both vision and toughness makes the check downs.
    All of that makes him the antithesis of this group competing for the two spots this year.
    Sometimes backups with opposite skills are a good thing. How many times have we seen a backup come in with a very different skill set and surprise the stuffing out of the opposing defense. Fer instance, there once was a guy who showed up with a new fangeled pistol offense that surprised the entire league for a moment in time.

      1. MJ – Good luck trying to find your sense of humor. I’ll post flyers in my neighborhood.

        1. Please explain to me the humor in that, show me how that is funny, a guy who has a similar last name was released…HILARIOUS!

    1. Crabs .. you had me goin’ for a sec ..
      (Didn’t know our Crabs had a bro playin’)

      But as to the question Grant posed ..
      I’ll have to go with MidWest … cuz I can see it happening
      that way as well

  8. If the Niners only drafted Fleener he could be the backup QB and still catch the touchdown according to Jr Cohn

    1. Sam
      Did u see that vine video of the highschool kid from Texas throwing a 50 yard bomb to himself? (yeah i know it was fake) I hear fleener can do THAT and kick the PAT…….Left Handed

  9. Grant, I think the “49ers QB’s hold the ball longer because they have slow possession receivers” doesn’t really make sense to me. By your premise, it would take a speedy receiver less time to get open on a deep fly route than Crabtree or Boldin could get open on a ten yard slant? And I don’t really think that a fast receiver gets open on short or intermediate patterns much more quickly than a slow receiver. Isn’t it more likely the type of patterns they run?

  10. Gabbert is the classic tale of a young QB put in to a very difficult situation and asked to immediately produce. The last QB that was put in this type of situation was one Alex Smith.

    Like AS, I believe that Gabbert has the potential to excel under the right tutelage. He could be become a viable and good pocket QB with the proper training and right team.

    Harbaugh is STILL the QB Whisperer. I want to see what he can do for a young shell-shocked QB that had to carry the weight of a franchise on his shoulders for the past few years.
    Gabbert might be the antithesis of Tim Tebow. Tebow was a player with enormous confidence who was short on QB skill. Blain on the other hand might be short on confidence but perhaps still have plenty of skill that needs to be tapped into.

    Gabbert will be on the roster in 2014 as our 2nd string QB when the season starts.
    The battle for the 3rd QB will be fought by Josh Johnson, MBT, and Faulkner.

    1. Blaine has all the tools to be a great QB in the NFL. I’m hoping that he blossom to a great QB in the NFL with the 49ers. I’m tired seeing the 49ers always short in the last three season in winning the SB with kaep. I applaude the 49ers brass for not giving Kaep a big contract extension as yet. He need to show that he can bring the Lombardi trophy to S.F. If Kaep can’t do that in 2014 the 49ers are not tied down with a big contract with Kaep in 2015.

  11. Gabbert was asked to get the ball out quickly in Jacksonville, for one thing. He was constantly banged up and throwing to different receivers during his time there. Line play was lousy. Learning new system every year, different coaching staff every year. He is better pure quarterback than Kaepernick and beat him soundly the only time they met in college. Kapaernick was still sitting on the bench behind Alex Smith when he was the age Blaine is now. It’s a 50/50 deal between the two for starting duty, once Gabbert learns the system.

    1. Robert ethan

      I agree with you completely, and I am wondering if Harbaugh has something up his sleeve for OTA’s or TC that will utilize our receiver corp (spread out) with Gabbert taking snaps. I think that most on here agree that we have to spread out the box to make good use of our running game, and Gabbert has the ability to throw short and medium passes with better accuracy and touch than Kaep. Darrell ‘mad bomber’ Lamonica isn’t coming out of retirement anytime soon….good post

      1. So Oregoniner, you “agree completely” that “it’s a 50/50 deal between the two”
        (Gabbert and Kaepernick) for starting duty once Gabbert learns the system?
        You’re both high.

        1. @Bar None

          I don’t think that you understand the depth of the problem if THE QB you’ve entrusted your franchise to gets his bell rung to the tune of 4 to 6 weeks recovery time; who do you replace him with who has the identical skills as Kaep ? GOOD LUCK! Better (IMHO), to establish a pro style system like a plug-n-play to where you don’t have to find another Kaep. It ain’t me who’s high….

          1. Oregoniner,

            I never disputed the fact that the Niners are screwed if Kaep misses any significant playing time, the fact is that’s been the case since Kaep took over as the starter. I hope Gabbert CAN be coached up and recover from his PTSD (post traumatic sack disorder), so that he can manage the offense should circumstances be so dire as to require his services. But the knucklehead statement that was made and that you “completely agreed with, was that “it’s a 50/50 deal bewteen the two for starting time” once Gabbert learns the system. A ridiculous statement! Gabbert will NEVER challenge KAP for playing time if Kaep’s healthy. So, yeah, you still are the one that’s high.

            1. …Your last line….IF KAEP’S HEALTHY… In 2006, Alex Smith was the only QB in the NFL to take every snap from center….what’re the odds? What makes it such a ridiculous statement…? Doesn’t Harbaugh insist on competition at every position?
              Huh…maybe I am high…

      2. Oregon,
        I have to agree with you that CK needs to work on the ‘touch’ pass. He also needs to learn to read his 2nd and 3rd options along with being more patient in the pocket.
        Oh, his footwork needs to vastly improve as well.

        But even with those somewhat glaring shortcomings (he still made it to the SB and Champ. game in his 1 1/2 seasons), the upside is that Kaep will only get better at his craft the more he plays.

        I believe that CK7 makes a huge statement this coming season and firmly puts himself in the MVP conversation.
        Hurry up. September!

        1. AES

          at least you and I are coming closer to Kaep’s problems and therefore solutions. But it won’t make a difference if that huge statement doesn’t happen this season, because both he and JH will be gone.

          1. Oregon,
            I guess that I’m more positive about the direction of our team than you are.
            I vividly recall the dark years of Ericsson, Nolan, and Singletary.
            The only thing I’d look forward to was trying to win 5-8 games per season and looking to the draft for players who might fill some dire needs.

            We were not attractive to any big name FA’s and the culture of the franchise was practically in ruins.
            The 49ers Empire was in desperate need of repair.

            Harbaugh/Baalke and our present team has made us relevant again and also made us heavy contenders for a SB ring over the last couple of years.

            Let’s just say that our team has given me reason to cheer again especially when I consider what we had pre- Harbaugh/Baalke and present players.

            If you want to continue to snipe at our QB that is certainly your right, but I would hope that Jed York is wise enough to know who brought this team back to prominence after being on life-support.

            Yeah, Harbaugh and CK might be gone after this season (as you say). I’ve come to believe that nothing surprises me in sports anymore.
            But I also know that we are about to embark on a new season just as hopeful as we were last year that we can bring home a # 6 Lombardi.
            I couldn’t do that (hopeful) pre-Harbaugh or pre-Kaep for that matter.

            1. In your previous post, you just outlined four (4) of KC’s shortcomings…footwork, inability to go thru his progressions, patience in the pocket, and his touch on shorter patterns.

              You point out those dark years of Erickson (2) with a Donohue stripped roster, Nolan, who basically built the present team (w /Scot McCloughan, and Singletary, whom I agree was completely out of his league. If I’m sniping, and you can call out 4 of his faults, it certainly wasn’t Kaep who brought us back to ‘prominence’.

              1. Oregon,
                I did point out Kaep’s shortcomings. Any 49ers faithful who can’t see that needs their eyes examined.

                But you conveniently only singled out the negative side of my ‘take’ and failed to point out my contention that a young QB with 1 1/2 experience as a starter took us to a SB and two Champ. games.

                I have no problem ID’ing CK’ issues, but you fail to give credit where it’s due when it comes to Kaep.

                Sure, the names you mentioned in your last address have had something to do with drafting and signing FA’ that have become core players for us. But the coaches who were here during that process could not put us in position to win.

                You are very astute in pointing out Kaep’ shortcomings and that’s fine. But as has become your MO regarding CK, you see a QB who hasn’t progressed while I see a QB who will get better.

                You see a QB who has failed to win a SB and the Champ. game against Seattle and I see a QB who helped get us to a SB and Champ. games after a long and agonizing drought.

                You see a QB that has become vogue for you to bash and I see a QB who has taken the brunt of losses without excuse and works to improve.

                You also don’t bring anything to the table on what the team can do to improve what you see as the QB problem.

                You continue to take a negative approach (glass half empty) to our QB.
                It’s obvious that you will never give Kaep any credit even if he wins a superbowl. I’m sure that you will be the first to point that we won a SB in spite of CK7.

        1. CK=ELITE

          I think that you’ll find it much easier to stomach if you’ll just change your username and consider it not so pariochial

          1. CK=Elite,
            I like your handle. More importantly, I like that you have faith in your/our starting QB.

            Although CK is not elite just yet, I’m well aware that it takes most pro QB’s at least 3-4 years to get a good grasp of the position.

            I expect Kaep to dominate this year. And make huge inroads in becoming an elite QB for years to come.

            Let the naysayers grovel in their negativity. I’m going to cheer my QB/Coach, and all 49ers.

            1. Why do you guys engage with Oregon on a situation that he is completely wrong about. He is throwing out his prejudiced opinion. Fortunately for us, his opinion of our QB is not shared by any level within the 49ers organization. Good news for us is that the ones that have bought in will enjoy this season immensely.

              1. Hi Bay

                You’re right…I am throwing out my prejudiced opinion…does that make me completely wrong about our differing views? After all, this is an opinion blog, and until something happens…everything is just opinion and guesswork.

  12. It is uncertain if the Niners will carry 3 QBs or 2 QBs. In 2013, the 53-men roster only had 2 QBs: Kaep, and Colt McCoy. Even BJ Daniels was cut to make room for other positions. This year, the roster is just as stacked… to keep 3 QBs would mean someone else gets cut, or another position get thinner in depth. Personally, I think the Niners should keep 2 QBs, and the 3rd QB be on the practice squad. Johnson is not eligible for the PS, so that’s too bad. Due to financial implications, Gabbert is in a better standing than Johnson. Bethel-Thomas is still good for PS this year. Faulkner is just a camp folder.

  13. Steve Young came from an identical situation as Gabbert back in the day. He was getting killed in Tampa Bay before they sent him to San Francisco to back up Joe Montana. Steve turned out all right, and was probably a better quarterback than Montana when he got a chance to start.

    1. Robert ethan: I am not saying that Gabbert can not recover. But the difference is that Plunkett got to sit on the Oakland bench with absolutely no pressure for over a year. He was only brought into play because of a broken leg and the fact he had a really good preseason. Young as a running/scrambler was also more comfortable under pressure so it wouldn’t have effected him as much as it would a pocket passer. He didn’t throw the ball away, rather he just took off running. Young also was not in a situation where he needed to be immediately ready to play, but was projected as a project. Gabberd is not considered to be a project so once the season starts he as the #2 must be ready to step in in case of injury because unlike those afore mentioned teams the Niner’s will probably only carry two QB’s, The only room for a project QB is on practice squad.

      1. The difference is Plunkett was physically injured, too, not just mentally beaten up. Bad knee, bad hip and busted up shoulder (throwing arm) could make a difference on how you actually perform under center.

  14. I can see JJ playing pretty well, maybe even very well, in the preseason, Gabbert playing so-so and MBT getting very few reps. Then, after Josh has won our support and we’re all rooting for him to be the #2, the Niners cut him and he gets picked up by Seattle. I hate to be a downer, it just seems that every year some player or another, (last year there were 2; BJ Daniels and Marcus Cooper) has what appears to be to be a pretty impressive preseason, only to get cut before the season starts. And it seems like they always end up in Seattle! Okay, I know that’s not really the case, it just stings longer when that happens.

    1. Bar None: I know what you mean. I think most of you can recognize my distrust of the front office’s ability to make sound roster decisions. Most of that stemmed from their blunders last season. I mean every team makes mistakes when they make cuts that later turn out to be mistakes. But not to many teams spend the entire season making cuts and re-signings on a weekly basis in the number that the 49ers did last season. Cut a player, sign another and cut the player they signed with in the same week. I mean we pretty much have beat that dead horse but one that is seldom mentioned is the role of gunner on special teams. They initially cut Osgood then had to resign him a couple of weeks later. They also cut Lockette with out really giving him no more than a couple of reps on special teams and he turned out to be a big hit fumble producing gunner for the Hawks. I mean who was the player they kept instead of them and why did it take a couple of extra weeks to recognize that mistake. Lockette in one of his two ST game reps put a highlight reel fumble causing hit on the returner. He was also the one that caused that fumble by LMJ in the playoff game.

      1. Will
        The Osgood cutting and resigning was cap mumbo jumbo. I believe that if Osgood was on the opening day roster his full salary would be guaranteed and they cut and signed him hoping to juke the numbers. As far as cooper goes, it sucks to lose out on players but they made a decision that Namdi was better that coop and they already had CBs taking up spots. I wish they would have snuck him through on the PS but thats the way it goes in the NFL. Competing teams cant afford to take up a roster spot for a developing player when the pressure is to WIN NOW and as a result teams can poach players off contenders’s PS

      2. Damn that Baalke and his “blunders” with regard to the 52nd and 53rd roster spots.

    2. Bar none, they know more than we do. If they let a certain player go it’s because that player didn’t fit in the big scheme of things. Just because someone lights it up in preseason against backups doesn’t necessarily mean they were good.

      As for QB depth chart, if JJ sticks, IMO he’ll be number two. Gabbert will let the playbook marinate. At the end of the season we will have two pretty good QB’s to choose from to back up Kaep for a while…. Maybe there will be on opportunity to trade the other for picks if he develops.

  15. JJ is more suited to a backup because as he himself said ” im past the development stage” as in what you see is what you get. Blaine is still an unknown. He could develop in to a good QB (after all he had the tools to be drafted top 10) or be a journeyman or regular washout. I think its a bit petty to complain about the QB salaries, after all the QBs on our roster make less that 3 mil COMBINED this year (kaeps extension notwithstanding) In a perfect world Kaep doesnt get hurt. In a slightly less perfect world JJ earns the backup job while Blaine shakes of the shellshock and becomes either a trade chip or a reliable backup for years to come.

    In a wierd way Blane Gabbert errily reminds me of Blake Bortles. Both were unheard of before their final year of college. Didn’t exactly light it up production wise and their stock was “scout driven” in that they saw tools that could translate to the NFL. It will be interesting to see if Jax will ruin BB like they did to BG considering that nothing much has changed in the type of situation they are entering in to

    1. If I am not mistake, when gabbert was signed johnson was not available. They made a play for Gabbert a while back to make sure they had a semi capable back-up that harbough can whisper to. But when johnson became available I’m guessing they couldn’t pass him up because of his skill set similarities to kaepernick.

  16. Someone please just step up and knock Kaep down. We need a real QB. Not just someone who is strong and runs fast

  17. When they traded for Gabbert, I doubted they could prep him in so short a time to be primary backup, and I thought they would bring someone else in for that role this coming year. I still believe that, and it looks like JJ might be that guy. If Gabbert can improve enough during training camp to unseat him, he’ll be a lot better than I supposed.

    1. Keep in mind they must see a lot in him, with their willingness to give up a 6th and also pay him big bucks. Maybe in a couple of years, they can trade him for a 2nd or 3rd.

      1. By then, Gabbert will be a FA. George, anyone ever tell you that you look a lot like Telly Savalas?

        1. Gabbert is not going anywhere……. he will fit fine with the west coast offense and a great QB coach remember he was a number 1 draft pick put in the worst situation (aka Alex Smith ) in Jacksonville 4 OCs in four years is a remedy to fail poor Alex had 7 in seven years and they were the worst coaches of all time…. in 2011 enter Real Coaches = winners . Blane Gabbert could be our future if im not mistaken CK is allready 26 or 27 just like college he may turn 30 before he learns 1 playbook haha

          1. friscoballaz, you might be right B. Gabbert might be Jim Harbaugh’s project. At 24 Gabbert might developed in to a great passer by harbaugh. And I think the 49ers will not give Kaep a big extension in 2014 they will wait after 2014 season.After all kaep choke when it counts.

  18. I wish we can wait another year before we dish out the big bucks to CK , this is his fourth year with the same coaches and same playbook . And i do think after Harbaugh sits Gabbert down a year and teaches him he will beat out CK. Look what he did with Smith in one summer and last year was a pro bowler . After picking up the best center in the draft we now AGAIN have the best FOOTBALL TEAM in the world but the worst QB in the league (actually he was 2nd worst to Geno Smith ) and for all u clowns out there that say “well he took us to the SB in his first year” i say he cost us 2 Superbowls (hands down we did have the best team in NFL ) and those guys took us to superbowl he just rode their coattails !!!! Granted he has a cannon for an arm but its useless IF U DONT KNOW HOW TO READ DEFENSES and cant throw with accuracy CK will never be great until he learns to be a pocket passer First then Run after u get in trouble (aka Steve Young ) we just picked up a great running back in the draft so he cant have that job Man it better not be in the 100 million range if we gave that money to P Manning in 2011 we would of won the last 3 Superbowls thats real talk GO NINERS

    1. Are YOU high too? That pro bowler lost his first playoff game that year while Kaep won two (and was the team’s only offense and damn near won a 3rd) on the road, in horrible weather and/or hostile home crowd conditions. You clowns that can’t get over the fact that Alex Smith is gone forever need to either start supporting your team’s amazingly talented quarterback while he improves his few shortfalls, or shut up and go root for the Raiders.

      1. Bar none, Just rewind the last 3 years same FN story Kaep choke in the big games. Somehow you’re in denial that kaep is below average Qb without running the football.

    2. Frisco
      Did you not watch the superbowl? Manning was abused by Sea. And dont tell me that we have a better team than Den ( I already know that) because if We signed PM and his 19mil per year salary then we dont have $ for boldin or guys on our defense. I know u disagree but Kaep was THE ENTIRE offense vs Sea and fared much better that PM and the superior offense did against them. Does CK need to improve? yes he does but hyperbole like “CK is the 2nd worst QB” just undermines your credibility. And FYI it was 2012 we were pursuing Maning not 2011 in 2011 PM sat out the entire season so at BEST we could have won 2 SB

        1. CB
          Womp womp. Guilty as charged. I should have known with the (2nd worst QB) line but i went ahead and posted anyways. I must be getting soft this offseason. Minicamp cant get here soon enough

        1. the k,
          Agreed, those numbers aren’t going to get it done especially in the 4th Qtr.
          But I’m hoping that we see more of the 1st half and early 3rd Qtr Kaep (against Seattle) when he had a 96.2 QB rating and 98 yrds rushing before the big downfall in the 4th.

          As far as the turn-overs, the one INT to Cam Chancellor was a complete boneheaded throw.
          The fumble happened on a play in which CK was flushed out of the pocket and was looking downfield and did not see the approaching defender.
          The 3rd turn-over came on a forced pass to Crabtree that was batted by Sherman and Smith was at the right place for the INT.
          Let’s give the Seattle defense a little credit for making half-time adjustments here as well.

          Sure, a safe game manager QB type could have probably not made those type of turn-overs, but then again, we may have been blown away by half-time as well.

          Right now, as long as Harbaugh/FO believe in CK I’m good to go.
          And I rather set my sights on a great and promising new season than dwell on past losses.
          Let’s put a new Lombardi in our new stadium!

  19. If Gabbert needs to be traded off or released, he can be. His guaranteed contract would go with him to the new team that hires him.
    The 49ers are only on the hook for that salary if the cut him without another team looking to hire him on. With experienced QB’s in good health that is rare.
    Also, they can stash him on the practice squad for a year, should they choose, and other teams can poach him off from there, IF they agree to pay his salary.

  20. Grant:

    Btw, Mike Tanier disagrees with you on the 49ers’ draft.

    San Francisco 49ers

    Finds Talent: Excellent. Drool. Here, read Russ Lande’s breakdown.

    Meets Needs: Excellent. The 49ers barely have needs, so they respond by drafting injured players to stash on IR like guard-tackle Brandon Thomas. That way, they will never have needs.

    Uses Resources: Excellent. The best part was getting Steve Johnson for nothing. Or hanging around on the third day, when it seemed impossible that they would find a player they could use, and getting pesky slot receiver Bruce Ellington and Kaleb Ramsey, another injury case who could help some future defensive line.

    Final Assessment: Curve Blown. If the current configuration of 49ers does not win a Super Bowl, it will likely not be the fault of Jim Harbaugh, his Lennon-McCartney relationship with the front office or Colin Kaepernick, but simply the cruel vagaries of chance, plus the Seahawks. This roster looks ready to win in 2014 through about 2019.

    Here’s what he said about Seattle:

    …The Seahawks get an “Advanced” when the Richard Sherman extension is thrown in. But in isolation, this draft does not do much to help the 2014 team, and the Niners gained ground. …

    From http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/75452756/nfl-draft-grades-nfc-cowboys-giants-49ers-seahawks-rams#!OLQu9

  21. Claude, you’re screwing up the narrative promoted here with the facts…
    Gabbert will be a happy ending story.
    The Niners got better.
    Life is worth living.
    Fandom should be fun or at least interesting. Work is hard. Not this.
    Giants are tearing it up. Go figure, must be the WS year again…

      1. Based on his “Curve Blown” assessment, I think Tanier’s point was that the 49ers had a better draft weekend than anyone. He didn’t think much of what the Panthers, Steelers, Colts, and Titans did.

  22. Jerry Rice Jr. ‏@JRtherealgoatJR
    Working for the next opportunity… Appreciate the ravens for getting my feet wet… Now preparing for #49ers this weekend.. Leggo!

  23. Uh oh, Grant ! I don’t think you will like this review of your erstwhile draft-crush, Coby Fleener, here:
    “Fleener isn’t a bad player — he’s a bit player. He’s been an unreliable target. He’s not a special blocker. Not exactly the return you’re hoping for from a second-round pick. More like the kind of player who can help an offense as a lower-tier option. “

  24. Mood let me preface my remarks by saying I believe i was the first person here to tout Fleener as the 9ers first pick in the 12 draft. So i was out in front on this one. I was disapointed when the 9ers chose Jenkins but i did’nt jump on the Jenkins was a horrible pick band wagon. Grant was right in every way regarding Jenkins pick and took a bit of crap for it. As comfortable as Grant is in being right about Jenkins I just wish he had the self confidence to admit how wrong he was regarding Fleener. I touted Fleener from about Dec. 2011 through the 2012 draft but i have no problem saying that i was wrong about him. He was a poor 2nd rd pick and would have been an even worse 1st rd pick. Now he certainly a better pick than Jenkins but still a poor pick. Now say it along with me Grant, boy was wrong on that one.

  25. I believe the 9ers have done an amazing job at this position. Not only do they draft a 1st round QB they liked from a few drafts ago (Gabbert), they also pick J.Johnson back up who looked stellar in his preseason with 9ers… Only reason they didn’t keep him was because Kaep was drafted that year and brought the same type of molding (obviously much better). Gabbert’s experience with Jags will only better him with the 9ers. It’s like going from a nightmare job to a grand experience employment. It’s most def going to help him. Not high on Bethel, he has speed and kind of looks like he freaks out… Not bad on him, I just don’t think he has had the constant top flight competition going up against him (NFL) as he did in college (Not going up against BIG time teams). This is going to be a very interesting training camp. GO 9ERS!

  26. Lots of interesting comments — and disagreements! — here about various QBs. Personally, I cannot wait for the first regular season game, just to see who the backup (only one, most likely) is and who is on the practice squad.

    Also, I believe that, just like last year, the 49ers had another tremendous draft this year. Even so, there is another team in their division that I believe had an even better draft. No, not the Seahawks (thank God!). It’s the Rams! It would not surprise me in the least to see the Rams “upset” both the Seahawks and the 49ers one time each during the coming season. And, for them to be a third serious contender from our division for a playoff spot this coming season.

    For the Seahawks, 49ers and Rams, along with every other good/contending team, being able to stay (relatively) healthy and not lose key players can make all the difference in postseason hopes.

  27. With 2nd and 3rd receivers running precise options off their stems, with Vernon’s mismatch against every safety in the league, and with an upgrade at center, especially anchoring the A gap, Kap will advance from a slow read QB to a normal progression. By the end of the season, his other attributes will raise him to a top 5 QBR. He won’t lead in total yards because 9ers are a running team, and we’ll be ahead mostly in the 2nd half of games. But efficiency, YPA etc, he’ll be ELITE.

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