Battle for backup QB

We all know Alex Smith is the 49ers’ starting quarterback, but there’s competition for the backup job and Josh Johnson may have pulled into the lead this week.

Until the past few practices, Johnson appeared to be in last place, behind Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Johnson was holding onto the ball longer than the other quarterbacks and taking more sacks. On the other hand, he’s taken a lot of reps with the second- and third-team offense against Justin Smith and the first-team defense, so it wasn’t surprising that Johnson struggled.

On Saturday against the first-team defense, he made two impressive throws. On second-and-10 in a two-minute drill he completed a 15-yard pass to Konrad Reuland, who was his second read on the play. Later on third-and-7, Johnson scrambled to his right, jumped and threw across his body to Brett Swain for a 10-yard gain.

Kaepernick hasn’t made jaw-dropping passes like those recently. He converted one third-and-long yesterday, but he ran for it. He’s been scrambling almost as much as he’s been throwing recently – especially when he plays against the first-team defense.

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