Around the NFC West: 49ers QB picture

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
9:29
AM ET
The San Francisco 49ers have options at quarterback over the next couple seasons.

Their new deal with Alex Smith could last one, two or three seasons. They could hand over the offense to Colin Kaepernick at any point along the way. Signing veteran Josh Johnson to a two-year deal Thursday gives the team depth behind Kaepernick if the team does transition away from Smith.

Johnson was not coveted in the market this offseason, but the fit with San Francisco should be a good one. He played for coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, which means the 49ers know what they are getting. It also means Johnson will have a decent grasp of the offense, most likely.

Scott Tolzien is the fourth quarterback. He has eligibility for the practice squad.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Harbaugh and Johnson enjoy a special bond. Branch: "Harbaugh saw something in Johnson nearly a decade ago when nearly no on else did. At Oakland Tech, Johnson, then 5-9 and 160 pounds, spend most of his time handing off to his cousin, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. No matter, the day after Harbaugh was hired at USD, he visited Johnson. The only other school to recruit him was St. Mary’s, which has since dropped its football program. Nearly a decade later, after throwing for 113 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in college, Johnson finds himself in a similar spot. In a four-year NFL career, he’s made five starts, thrown five touchdowns and 10 interceptions and posted a 57.7 rating. But now he’s back with the coach of whom he’s said 'he makes your strengths become your greatness and makes your weaknesses become your strengths.' "

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have re-signed offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. Thomas: "He probably will serve as the Rams' third tackle rather than as a starter, which means free-agent Adam Goldberg's six-year tenure with the team probably has ended. Ojinnaka, 6-5, 295, also can play guard. He spent four seasons with Atlanta, from his rookie season in 2006 through '09, so Rams general manager Les Snead and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau know him from their time with the Falcons' organization. In six NFL seasons, Ojinnaka has appeared in 58 games with 15 starts."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says re-signing D'Anthony Batiste makes sense because the Cardinals need depth at offensive tackle. Urban: "The Cards have a few representatives at Stanford’s pro day today -- including head coach Ken Whisenhunt -- and part of the Stanford attraction is projected first-round offensive linemen Jonathan Martin, a tackle, and David DeCastro, a guard. At this point, free agent tackle Demetrius Bell, who visited last week, has not signed anywhere. Multiple possibilities remain in play."

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle goes on camera to offer thoughts on the Seahawks' offseason to this point.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Seahawks general manager John Schneider has demonstrated a strong feel for the draft. Kelley: "In the draft last year, they plugged two more offensive line holes, but they also found a starting linebacker, K.J. Wright, in the fourth round and a starting cornerback, Richard Sherman, in the fifth. They got starting corner Brandon Browner from the CFL, and signed undrafted free-agent receivers Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockett. They found players where other teams weren't looking."

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