Jed York wants Colin Kaepernick to run, run, run like the wind next season. That means two things: (1) Kaepernick is going to run, because the coaching staff would prefer to remain employed, and (2) the 49ers need to find a backup quarterback.
Preferably not this guy:
Here’s a list of unrestricted free agents, via NFL.com:
Jason Campbell, Cincinnati Bengals
Jimmy Clausen, Chicago Bears
Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers
Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis Colts
Shaun Hill, St. Louis Rams
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
Josh Johnson, San Francisco 49ers
Ryan Lindley, Arizona Cardinals
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans
Luke McCown, New Orleans Saints
Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins
Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles
Tyrod Taylor, Baltimore Ravens
Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
Joe Webb, Carolina Panthers
Michael Vick, New York Jets
T.J. Yates, Atlanta Falcons
The 49ers are fond of buying low on former high draft picks who were considered disappointments, which would point to the team possibly having interest in guys like Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or Mark Sanchez. One could throw Michael Vick into the mix — especially because he’d provide some mobility — but he doesn’t have a lot of football left and the backlash wouldn’t be worth it. They could always try for a reunion with Colt McCoy, who showed flashes of being decent with Washington, or even Shaun Hill. Maybe even Scott Tolzien!
The fact that Blaine Gabbert doesn’t look like that horrible of an option after reading this list shows how rarely good quarterbacks hit the open market. If the 49ers sign one of these guys, my money would be on Locker. Then the 49ers would have two strong, mobile quarterbacks on their roster who *might* complete 60% of their passes. Pretty tough to pass up that kind of opportunity, really.
If we’re taking a hint from last year, the 49ers may want to consider dealing for a veteran starter whose available because his current team is planning on drafting a “franchise quarterback” in the first round.
Josh McCown: The 49ers signed him in August of 2011 and released him about two weeks later. After going 1-10 as a starter for Tampa Bay (who has the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft), he’ll either be traded or released (he’s scheduled to make $5.25 million in 2015, but not one cent is guaranteed). McCown performed well enough with Chicago in 2012-13 (101 QB rating) to earn a decent contract from Tampa Bay, but at 35 years old the 49ers may not hold much interest.
Nick Foles: The Eagles may be interested in trading up for Marcus Mariota, in which case they’d have a valuable trade chip (no pun intended) in Foles. The 49ers would have to get into a bidding war with other teams (like the Rams), as Foles had a phenomenal season statistically in 2013 and still has a year left on his rookie deal. While blocking St. Louis from getting a legitimate quarterback might sound tempting, it’s difficult to picture Trent Baalke giving up a lot for Foles unless he has serious doubts about Kaepernick’s ability to lead the team in 2015.
Geno Smith: Uh, no.
Here’s the top 15 (according to CBSSports.com, with estimates on when they’d get drafted):
Jameis Winston, Florida State … Round 1
Marcus Mariota, Oregon … Round 1
Brett Hundley, UCLA … Round 2
Garrett Grayson, Colorado State … Round 3-4
Bryce Petty, Baylor … Round 3-4
Shane Carden, East Carolina … Round 5-6
Sean Mannion, Oregon State … Round 6
Blake Sims, Alabama … Round 6-7
Connor Halliday, Washington State … Round 7
Tyler Heinicke, Old Dominion … Round 7
Cody Fajardo, Nevada … Round 7-FA
Brandon Bridge, South Alabama … Round 7-FA
Bryan Bennett, Southeastern Louisiana … Round 7-FA
Hutson Mason, Georgia … Round 7-FA
Chris Bonner, Colorado State … Round 7-FA
As far as quarterback classes go, 2015 is pretty forgettable. One could easily come up with significant questions about the viability of each player, even the two guys expected to go in the top 10. For some reason I could see them taking Brett Hundley in the second round, but this is based off nothing other than sheer intuition. Perhaps taking Cody Fajardo in the sixth or seventh round — so they can have two quarterbacks from Nevada who can run — would be more likely.
Kaepernick’s college numbers: 10,098 passing yards, 58.2 comp%, 82 passing TD, 24 INT, 142.5 rating, 4,112 rushing yards, 6.9 ypc, 59 rushing TD
Fajardo’s college numbers: 9,624 passing yards, 65.1 comp%, 57 passing TD, 29 INT, 134.8 rating, 3,487 rushing yards, 5.5 ypc, 44 rushing TD