SAN FRANCISCO Coach Jim Harbaugh said Sunday the 49ers would "kick the tires" on veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who played last year for the United Football League's Sacramento Mountain Lions.
Culpepper, 34, is due to work out today for 49ers coaches and scouts and is the first known veteran passer to visit the 49ers during free agency.
"It's an opportunity to look at a veteran quarterback, put a third guy on the roster who's been there before and has game experience," Harbaugh said. "So (we will) see where he's at physically, see where he's at mentally, emotionally. Looking forward to a good workout."
Finding a veteran quarterback became more imperative for the 49ers following Friday's exhibition loss to the New Orleans Saints. Starter Alex Smith was sacked twice and absorbed three crushing hits against the Saints' blitzing defense. On the first hit, he was driven into the playing surface on his twice surgically repaired throwing shoulder but quickly popped to his feet uninjured.
After Smith, the 49ers have three rookie quarterbacks on the roster. One of them, second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick, entered the game early in the second quarter and played until the game's end. Kaepernick showed flashes of promise and led the team in rushing. But he also threw two interceptions, fumbled twice and was sacked four times.
The 49ers acknowledged Friday that they weren't expecting the Saints to blitz as much as they did, and they practiced their blitz pickup assignments throughout a Sunday afternoon practice in front of 8,200 fans at Candlestick Park.
"I thought we had a great meeting today, this morning before we came out here," Harbaugh said. "We really got some detail, some coaching points in that all would have really been done in minicamps and (organized team activities in the offseason). They came up, we got them addressed. And good things, I think, will happen."
If the 49ers were to add a veteran quarterback, he would join a team that has no stated starter. Harbaugh said that, as of now, Smith is No. 1 on the depth chart and Kaepernick is No. 2, but, like all positions on the team, that could change.
Smith, meanwhile, said he felt as if he is competing for the job and had no issue with that. "He hasn't seen any of us play," Smith said of Harbaugh. "Why wouldn't it be an open competition? And why wouldn't he want to see us play football and then go from there?"
Still, Harbaugh has said he thought Smith would ultimately win that competition, and the coach appears to be giving him every chance to do so. Smith has practiced exclusively with the first-team unit since Aug. 4, and he led the first-string offense for the first five series Friday in New Orleans.
Smith noted that Kaepernick ran the first-team offense for the first six days of training camp when Smith, a free-agent signee, was not permitted to practice with the team because of NFL rules.
"So I don't know if this is a chance to let me catch up or what," Smith said. "But I'm trying to take advantage of them right now and get ready to go."
Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was a first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 1999. He also played for the Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions before joining the UFL last season.
Culpepper's best season came in 2004 when he set a single-season record for total yardage produced by a quarterback with 5,123 yards. In his last NFL season, 2009, he started five games for Detroit and finished with 945 passing yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
Culpepper started all eight games last season for the Mountain Lions. He was 183 for 300 for 1,944 yards with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.