49ers' backup QB situation could be intriguing

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2013 - 11:20 am

For the last month, the 49ers have been saying they have one of the best quarterback situations in the NFL. That situation will get significantly thinner March 12 when they officially trade No. 2 quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City.

And that begs the question: Who will be the 49ers' backup quarterback?

The answer for the short term is Scott Tolzien, who spent the 2012 season as the No. 3 quarterback. For two years, the 49ers have raved about Tolzien's smarts and work ethic, and he certainly will be thrown into the mix for 2013.

Tolzien was active for two games last season – once when punter Andy Lee was dealing with a broken thumb and there were questions whether he could be the holder on field goals and extra points – and he has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game.

The 49ers' offense would not be as multidimensional under Tolzien as it is with starter Colin Kaepernick. Tolzien is a pocket passer who ran for minus-30 yards his final season at Wisconsin.

Before last season, Tolzien beat out Josh Johnson for the No. 3 role, and Johnson could be back in the fold as well. He's now on the Cleveland Browns' roster but is poised to become a free agent March 12.

The 49ers also could use one of their 15 draft picks on a quarterback.

After Smith had two of the best seasons of his career, and after Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, San Francisco's decision makers have to be very confident in their ability to identify and develop quality passers.

This year's draft is generally considered weak for quarterbacks, especially at the top. However, there is talent, and some passers, such as Florida State's E.J. Manuel, seem to have promise.

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