Since the 49ers signed Josh Johnson to a free-agent deal this offseason, Coach Jim Harbaugh has lauded his quartet of talented quarterbacks, saying they all have a chance to enjoy long and successful NFL careers.
Between Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Johnson and Scott Tolzien, the 49ers boast one of the best quarterback quartets in the league. Until recently, it appeared to be a three-horse race to see who would backup Alex Smith as the No. 2 quarterback on the roster. But on Tuesday, Harbaugh told reporters that second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick has started to separate himself.
“I would say Colin has emerged there,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been very good. Nothing’s set in stone in that regard, but there’s been some emergence.”
Kaepernick has been taking second-team reps throughout training camp and helped bolster his standing with a solid performance in last week’s preseason opener against Minnesota, highlighted by his 78-yard touchdown run. Tolzien also had an impressive day, going 10-for-13 for 84 yards, while Johnson led the offense to the doorstep of the end zone before kneeling the ball to end the game.
Harbaugh didn’t rule out the possibility of carrying all four quarterbacks into the regular season, while noting the benefits of having the quality group in practice.
“We knew that it would be very competitive in the offseason and in training camp,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been a great value in that we don’t take a bad rep in practice because of a quarterback not knowing what to do or not having the ability to make any particular throw.”
Harbaugh said Smith will be followed by Kaepernick, Johnson and then Tolzien in Saturday’s preseason road matchup against the Houston Texans. But as Harbaugh said, “This competition – it moves. It’s fluid; it goes up, it goes down, it goes sideways.”
The depth at the position has also benefitted the skill players on the offense. Tight end Vernon Davis said he’s enjoyed working with the talented group of quarterbacks and that he’s noticed improvement from Smith following his career year in 2011.
“It’s a blessing to have our four quarterbacks,” Davis said. “Especially to have Alex Smith. He’s got so much better at everything and they’re really drilling him to make sure he has all the knowledge that he has to get out there on the field.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson, Scott Tolzien
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