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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Eleven NFC West quarterbacks in focus

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers were the only NFC West team to play just two quarterbacks in their first preseason game.

They are the only team in the division looking for a third quarterback.

How much quarterbacks play during preseason can mean more than how well they seem to play under what are often unusual circumstances with little application to the regular season.

Preseason snap counts are especially precious during this abbreviated NFL offseason. That helps explain why St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo indicated he might schedule his starters to play longer in the second preseason game, making up for time lost. That might also explain why the 49ers weren't going to waste preseason snaps on quarterbacks not yet in their immediate plans.

The charts break out quarterback participation by NFC West team, including non-penalty snaps, quarters, drives and drive results.

The Arizona Cardinals' Kevin Kolb drove his team to the Oakland 1, where the Raiders stuffed Beanie Wells on a fourth-and-goal play.

The second chart breaks down participation for No. 2 quarterbacks in preseason openers. Columns remain ordered by team (Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals) for easier comparison with the other charts.

The third chart covers third-string quarterbacks (Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals).

Cardinals fourth-stringer Max Hall also played in the first week of preseason. He took five snaps and led one touchdown drive. Update: Taylor Potts, the Rams' fourth-string quarterback, took the final three snaps for the Rams, all handoffs. I've updated the charts to reflect.

I've included the final chart breaking down snap percentages by quarterback for those wondering whether their team's starter played too much, too little or the right amount in the opening week.

My impression watching the Seahawks was that Tarvaris Jackson, having played only two series, needed a little more time to get going. While he did play the lowest percentage of his team's snaps among NFC West starters, he logged one more snap than Kolb. Seattle quarterbacks ran more snaps overall, strengthening the perception that Jackson was hardly out there at all.