Alex Smith

49ers sign Josh Johnson, their second QB in two days

The 49ers signed former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Johnson to a two-year contract, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, and this crazy off-season keeps chugging along.

What’s the future at the quarterback position in San Francisco? At first glance it looks like it could go one of two ways.

1. The logical move: good-bye Scott Tolzein. He was third on the depth chart, signing Johnson makes Tolzein fourth, and nobody carries four quarterbacks in the NFL because that’s like carrying three catchers on a Major League Baseball team.

(San Francisco Giants fans, you can put your hands down. We see them, but we aren’t calling on anyone at this time.)

Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke want to have the three best players at the position as possible at any given time, and it’ll be an open competition this fall. Colin Kaepernick could be the No. 3 guy at the end of camp, he could be No. 1. It’s anybody’s guess!

Update: Matt Barrows noted that Tolzein has practice squad eligibility. After a pretty solid preseason for San Diego in 2011, I have the feeling Tolzein would get snatched up by another team if that occurred. Maybe I’m a little higher on Tolzein than most.

2. The Kaepernick move: namely, trading him. The Johnson signing isn’t exactly a vote of confidence for Alex Smith. Then again, neither were the overtures to Peyton Manning. Smith should still enter training camp as the presumed starter, seeing as he’s the incumbent who went 14-4 last season and…

— Josh Freeman started over Johnson in Tampa Bay, just a dreadful team last season. Smith’s probably as good as Freeman, if not quite a bit better. Forget physical tools, Freeman threw more interceptions than touchdowns last season and, even worse, seemed to lose his team along with coach Raheim Morris.

— If the 49ers thought Johnson was a better option than Smith, why sign Smith first to a significant amount of money if Johnson’s available, waiting to be reunited with Harbaugh the next day?

On the other hand, Kaepernick went too high in last year’s NFL Draft to get demoted to third string in his second season. Signing two quarterbacks in one week that you’d think would sit higher on the depth chart is a much worse sign for Kaepernick than HarBaalke’s flirtation with Manning was for Smith.

The 49ers almost surely wouldn’t get equal value (a 2nd rounder) for Kaepernick straight up, but the best they could get for Tolzein would be in the 7th round. If there’s a team who’s interested in a tall, athletic QB prospect with a strong arm, maybe Kaepernick could help sweeten the pot if the 49ers want to move up in the first round from their current slot, No. 30. You know, trade him to the Jets or something. Just kidding (sort of), but the Browns have two first rounders (Nos. 4 and 22) and Colt McCoy as their starter. No. 22 isn’t out of the realm, is it?

Two things I’m pretty sure the 49ers won’t do:

1. Run some gimmicky two-QB offense, with wildcat formations and quarterbacks running on and off the field.

2. Move Kaepernick to wide receiver. Tight end, maybe. But definitely not wide receiver.

11 Comments

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11 Comments on "49ers sign Josh Johnson, their second QB in two days"

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Reg
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Reg

Who writes this crap? Awful post.

Paperback Writer
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Paperback Writer

LOL -Feel free to expound on why it’s “crap”. Otherwise, bye, bye.

GooseLosGatos
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GooseLosGatos
People often look at NFL football coaches (Walsh, Harbaugh) as beloved figures. They’re not… What type of guy sends men into battle that will leave most of them with disabiltating injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives and most NFL players have little or no money by the time they are 40 despite the fact they put their bodies and health on the line. I’ll tell you who coaches these men – guys who are calloused and only care about themselves. Sorry, but its the truth. I love NFL football but I’m not naive enough to believe… Read more »
Backdrop
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Backdrop
This just in: Professional football is about….winning. Not winning popularity contests, just straight up winning. Like 14-2, conference championships and Super Bowls. Being hard-nosed and not letting personal feelings get in the way are qualities of successful coaches like the ones you reference. Having said that, I don’t see how this move helps in that regard. This guy has no body of work and probably very limited potential. In all likelihood, this means Smith is your clear starter, and Johnson is viewed as Kap’s equal, with Kap being trade bait. Personally, Kap never struck me as much of a prospect.… Read more »
Otis Byrd III
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Otis Byrd III
I’m happy with the Josh Johnson signing! One of the good things about this signing is, the QB responsibilities won’t be all on Alex Smith, should he regress next season. If Alex Smith was to struggle or regress, the 49ers would have a serviceable backup QB like Johnson who’s worked with Harbaugh before, and he could step in for a little bit, instead of throwing Kaepernick into the fire when he’s not ready yet. The 49ers could still groom Kaepernick, even though he is probably going to the 3rd string QB with this move. I’m sure he will still have… Read more »
GooseLosGatos
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GooseLosGatos

Otis,
you may be right. Alex is obviously a hard worker and dedicated type guy but maybe he responds extremy well to competition.

It also shows how much JJ thinks of Harbaugh that he was quoted as saying he wanted to sign with the Niners no matter what.

Lenny
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Lenny

You’ve been reading too much of Lowell Cohn’s articles = P (though haven’t we all >_>;)

Johnson’s started five games over three years, and never really been ‘the guy’. Given the state of football in Tampa Bay, it’s probably safe to say that he’s lost his way as a quarterback a bit. It really just looks to me like in Harbaugh’s eyes, Johnson can give Kaep a bigger run for his money on the backup spot than Scott Tolzein, and if something happens to Alex and Kaep, he should be a better stopgap than Tolzein as well.

John Sports
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Definitively a solid sign, the chances of Alex staying upright again this season is slim.
I just hope this doesn’t mark the end to Kapernik…I really think his upside is huge.
But I’ve been wrong many times before in the past. But after reading some of the posts I think I may be in the minority on Kapernik.
Listening to Vernon Davis right now on 95.7 about the recent trades and Alex’s feelings about the recent Manning pursuit. Very Informative and well spoken…seems like a personable Dude.

devnull
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devnull

I can argue either way on Alex’s health — one of the reasons he succeeded last year was precisely that he did avoid injury. Not that many teams can say the same thing about their starting QB.

And arguably, the O-line should be better this year — that’s a pretty significant contributing factor to QB health.

The flipside of course is “he’s due for getting banged up”. Hard to dispute — nobody has a crystal ball.

RJ
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RJ

A friend of mine brought up the idea that maybe Josh Johnson would be the primary back up to Alex Smith and the coaching staff would be able to focus more on Colin Kaepernick’s development. It’s interesting to look at from different angles.

Stan
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Stan

Harbaugh had dreams of an elite QB…JJ is rebound love. Settling for Alex Smith has made him antsy for a better QB.

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