It’s a move that makes sense in a few ways.
— It shows the San Francisco 49ers wouldn’t mind having a quarterback who has started 21 NFL games on the roster behind Colin Kaepernick. That’s understandable, since Scott Tolzien has only played in the preseason.
— The trade itself really means little in terms of the 49ers’ overall draft situation — they move back nine spots from the fifth round choice they dealt to Cleveland for the Browns’ sixth rounder, and the 49ers had four seventh round picks heading into today (two of those are compensatory selections, which cannot be traded).
— McCoy also has a little mobility. He has 363 yards rushing so far in his NFL career, and ran for 1,571 yards and 20 TD at the University of Texas.
It’s difficult to question Jim Harbaugh when it comes to just about anything, since the 49ers have gone 27-9-1 (including the playoffs) since he arrived, after finishing 46-82 in the previous eight seasons. Add in his record as an evaluator and developer of quarterbacks, and skepticism about this move sounds even more ridiculous.
At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I’m not especially excited about this trade. Yes, McCoy provides experience and a memorable name. It’s also conceivable that the Cleveland Browns have no idea what they’re doing, and that’s why they replaced McCoy with Brandon Weeden, a rookie who turned 29 during the 2012 season. McCoy even shares the same agent with Harbaugh and Greg Roman (which really shouldn’t matter). However …
— McCoy has never been able to show off his outstanding college accuracy (he completed 70.3% of his passes at Texas) in the pros (where he has only completed 58.3%).
— McCoy’s arm isn’t as weak as Ken Dorsey’s, but it certainly isn’t in the top half of NFL quarterbacks. Not even close.
— He isn’t a statue like Carson Palmer, but McCoy’s yards per carry numbers are nothing to get too excited over — 3.9 in the NFL and 3.5 in college.
— McCoy will make $1.5 million this season, which takes the 49ers’ available cap space to about $3 million.
That last point shows just how poorly the 49ers view this incoming quarterback class. Instead of going after a raw signal caller in the first four rounds, the 49ers were more interested in giving up one of their late picks and a little more money to buy some experience. Yet, this trade doesn’t necessarily mean Tolzien automatically moves down to No. 3 on the depth chart. Nor does it mean they’re done considering Pat White, who worked out for the New York Giants after playing catch with Harbaugh in Santa Clara.
The jury’s still out on McCoy. He led the Browns to a 6-15 record in his starts, and his last start ended with a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit by James Harrison that resulted in a concussion. If Harbaugh can resurrect McCoy’s career, it would be yet another example of why it doesn’t sound the least bit ridiculous to call the 49ers head coach a “Quarterback Whisperer.” But as Josh Johnson can tell you, getting a chance in camp and making the team are two different things.