NFC West: Colt McCoy

The San Francisco 49ers continued to add depth to the cornerback position by bringing back Perrish Cox on a one-year deal, his agent tweeted Tuesday.

Cox
Cox is expected to sign this week. He was to be a restricted free agent, but the 49ers didn’t tender him.

Cox bounced on and off the 49ers’ roster last season, but did play in the playoffs. He beat out veteran Eric Wright for playing time in the postseason. However, the 49ers signed Wright two weeks ago, indicating he is a bigger priority moving forward than Cox.

Cox, though, does lengthen the 49ers’ options at cornerback. Last week, we looked at where the position stands. So, Cox increased depth, at least, during training camp.

The 49ers will very likely use a high draft pick on a cornerback who will play a lot as a rookie.

The 49ers have just two remaining unrestricted free agents -- center Jonathan Goodwin and quarterback Colt McCoy. Only Goodwin has a chance to return, but that might be down the road.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blaine Gabbert never became the franchise quarterback former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith envisioned when he traded two picks to get him in the first round of the 2011 draft. The Jaguars finally gave up on Gabbert last Tuesday when current GM David Caldwell traded Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft and a possible conditional pick in 2015.

ESPN.com Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson break down the trade:

DiRocco: Blaine Gabbert clearly wasn't in the Jaguars' plans any longer and I, like most people, expected the team to release him at some point -- though I thought he'd at least go to training camp. But GM David Caldwell was somehow able to work out a trade with 49ers GM Trent Baalke to send Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick and a conditional pick in 2015.

What does Baalke like about Gabbert and why did he swing that trade?

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesUnder the guidance of coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers are hoping that Blaine Gabbert can finally flourish.
Williamson: The 49ers had 12 draft picks and they have a stacked roster, thus, low-round draft picks don’t mean much to them. Baalke and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (who loves taking fliers in young quarterbacks) were both at Gabbert’s pro day three years ago and they had him visit prior to the draft. The 49ers have a need for a backup and always kept Gabbert in mind. I know it may have come as a surprise to folks in Jacksonville that the Jaguars got anything more than a loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread from the 49ers, but they actually do see value in Gabbert.

Mike, what do you think the 49ers are actually getting in Gabbert?

DiRocco: They're getting exactly what you want physically in a quarterback: a big (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), athletic, strong-armed player. That has never been his issue. It's what happens mentally that has held him back. He's somewhat skittish in the pocket and he makes too many questionable decisions on where to throw the ball. It's disconcerting because he's a pretty good practice player, but it doesn't transfer to game day.

There seems to be the thought that if anyone can fix him, it's Jim Harbaugh. But how much time can he devote to Gabbert while still working with Colin Kaepernick?

Williamson: You make a good point. Kaepernick is still not a finished product. But Harbaugh loves tinkering with quarterbacks. Gabbert’s time will be in the offseason, training camp and in the preseason. He needs to take advantage of working with the Quarterback Whisperer. Colt McCoy said last year he learned more about quarterbacking in his one season in San Francisco than in his entire playing career. So this is an opportunity for Gabbert; Harbaugh and his staff are top notch.

Mike, do you think Gabbert can put the misery of the past three years behind him and take advantage of this opportunity?

DiRocco: I think he will definitely benefit from the fresh start, but I don't know if he can overcome his mental issues. I don't buy the argument that he panics and is afraid to get hit. I think he was hurt by being forced to play before he was ready, plus he didn't exactly have a lot of weapons in the passing game. Not many quarterbacks are going to flourish under those conditions. If he's willing to start over from ground zero and approaches this with an open mind, I think he can make strides. He's still only 24 years old.

Bill, it may be too early to tell, but do you think the 49ers view Gabbert as a potential long-term backup or is this just them kicking the tires to see if he's a viable option?

Williamson: I think it’s a total kick-the-tires expedition. Again, it’s a low risk at a low cost. He’ll be the backup this year and they will see what he can do. If he’s terrible, they will move on. If they fix him, perhaps they will try to flip him and make a nice draft-pick profit. Basically, this is a guy who previously intrigued them and they are confident they can make him better. If it doesn’t work, well, at least Baalke and Harbaugh will know they tried.

49ers' offseason scorecard

March, 12, 2014
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Free agency isn’t 24 hours old and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Browns).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Free=agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Remaining free-agent priority: Cornerback Tarell Brown.

Other remaining free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, running back Anthony Dixon, cornerback Perrish Cox.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.
The San Francisco 49ers will likely consider adding a quarterback in the mid rounds of the draft.

The team would like to develop a backup to young star Colin Kaepernick. His 2013 backup, veteran Colt McCoy, is a free agent. The team also has McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who could compete for the job.

Still, this is a deep draft, and the 49ers have a surplus of picks. And coach Jim Harbaugh is a huge fan of young quarterbacks. The 49ers looked at several last season. Here is a look at some of the quarterbacks who could attract interest in the mid-rounds:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson: Once considered a top-10 pick, Boyd could be tempting if he is available late in the third round.

David Fales, San Jose State: The local kid has the look of becoming a competent backup.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: He dominated at a low level. Could be worth a shot.

AJ McCarron, Alabama: He’s smart and a winner. Those are two wonderful quarterback traits.

Aaron Murray, Georgia: coming of an injury. Could be an interesting guy to stash.

Logan Thomas, Virginal Tech: He has all the tools. Could be worth developing.

More change at No. 3 quarterback

November, 26, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The roster causality of the San Francisco 49ers activating standout receiver Michael Crabtree to the 53-man is No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Thus, continues the merry-go round at the position behind starter Colin Kaepernick. Bethel-Thompson’s release is not a shock. The 49ers’ roster is deep and he was the logical player to get cut. He is eligible for the practice squad and the 49ers could place him there if he clears waivers Wednesday.

The 49ers claimed Bethel-Thompson off waivers from Minnesota earlier this season. The San Francisco native was with the 49ers in camp two years ago.

He was the fourth No, 3 quarterback the 49ers have had since camp. For now, the team will go with just Kaepernick and Colt McCoy on the roster.

Circling back to Josh Freeman

October, 3, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Earlier this week, we examined if quarterback Josh Freeman would interest the San Francisco 49ers in a trade.

Freeman
Now, the scenario has changed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released the 25-year-old former starter outright Thursday. He is free to sign with any team.

Answer me this: If starter Colin Kaepernick were to get injured, do the 49ers have a better option than Freeman on the roster? It is a question the 49ers have to be currently asking themselves.

When Freeman does land, I’d be surprised if it’s with the 49ers. He will have better chances to play elsewhere and the need isn’t pressing.

But here’s why I wouldn’t be shocked if the 49ers didn’t, at least, consider talking to Freeman: Jim Harbaugh loves quarterbacks.

The 49ers just signed John Skelton. Freeman is a better short- and long-term prospect than Skelton. Freeman is also a better option that Colt McCoy, the 49ers’ current No. 2, who could potentially be unseated by Skelton soon. I think Harbaugh would smile himself to sleep at the thought of a quarterback stable of Kaepernick, Skelton and Freeman.

Again, there are obstacles in the way of making it happen, but there are reasons to believe such a pairing is intriguing to San Francisco.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – One of the reasons John Skelton is excited to be a San Francisco 49er is his desire to play for Jim Harbaugh.

“There’s no doubt about it, I wanted to play for him,” the quarterback said Wednesday. “He’s been there before. He’s played at this level. I’ve talked to guys who played for him and I’ve heard nothing but good things. … When you get to know him you see what he’s all about – it’s a passion for the game. He’d strap it on again if he could. … I want to learn from him.”

Skelton
Harbaugh is just as fired up to work with Skelton.

“Good stature in the pocket. Experienced guy.” Harbaugh said of the former Arizona Cardinals starter. “He’s played, won games and been in those battles. Had an excellent workout when he was here a few weeks back. One of the better workouts I’ve seen from a quarterback in one of those type of workout environments. … Big, strong, definitely has arm talent. I’m excited to work with him, and that’s really what it amounts to.”

The 49ers signed Skelton, who was recently cut by Cincinnati, and released rookie B.J. Daniels. The 49ers had planned to re-sign Daniels to the practice squad, but he was claimed Wednesday by Seattle.

Harbaugh indicated the 49ers wanted more overall experience at quarterback. Skelton likely will push Colt McCoy for the No. 2 job behind Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh wouldn’t talk about the backup competition, but it is clear the 49ers brought Skelton in to see if he can progress in their system. If Skelton quickly catches up, I could see a scenario where he overtakes McCoy fairly soon.

“[We have] three quarterbacks that all have played in games and been in the fire, and now we have three at our disposal,” Harbaugh said. “We have a great starter and two guys now, two guys to back up that have been in those games."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Count 49ers defensive back Bubba Ventrone among the many who was caught off guard Wednesday afternoon when the Indianapolis Colts acquired second-year running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns.

The massive trade shook the NFL.

Richardson
“A lot of people were surprised,” said Ventrone, who played with Richardson in Cleveland last season. “The fans liked him and the guys on the team all seemed to like him.”

The trade directly affected the San Francisco 49ers. They host Richardson and the Colts on Sunday. Coach Chuck Pagano said Thursday Richardson is not being brought to San Francisco to be the team’s water boy and he will play extensively Sunday despite having just two practices with the Colts.

The 49ers know it and are preparing for him.

"You just have to study his running style,” Ventrone said. “See how he carries the ball.”

Added star San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, who began studying film of Richardson on Wednesday night: "You don’t know why Cleveland would let go of a guy like that."

San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday he was informed of the deal while on the practice field Wednesday. He said he immediately started to watch film of Richardson, and the players watched the film Thursday.

Fangio said Richardson will affect the team’s game plan somewhat. The team does have some help as it studies Richardson. Along with Ventrone, quarterback Colt McCoy, fullback Owen Marecic and kicker Phil Dawson were in Cleveland with Richardson last season, so they can give some helpful hints. Also, safety Eric Reid said he faced Richardson while he was a safety at LSU and Richardson was at Alabama.

So, the 49ers aren’t dealing with his late addition totally blind.
Looking back on three things discussed here before the San Francisco 49ers closed their 2013 preseason schedule with a 41-6 road victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night:

1. Final QB impressions: Starter Colin Kaepernick, backup Colt McCoy and third quarterback B.J. Daniels combined for four touchdown passes without an interception. The group made a positive final impression overall, even though McCoy averaged just 3.7 yards per pass attempt while completing 8 of 15 attempts for 56 yards. Daniels, a seventh-round draft choice, tossed two scoring passes on only nine attempts and added a 36-yard run. He looks like a keeper. Veteran backup Seneca Wallace did not travel to San Diego and doesn't appear to have a future with the team.

2. Injury list: Backup offensive lineman Adam Snyder appeared to suffer a wrist or hand injury. Running back LaMichael James suffered a knee injury. The extent of those injuries was not immediately known.

3. The spectacular: The 49ers' receivers deserve credit for making their quarterbacks look good. Rookie Quinton Patton turned a short pass from Kaepernick into a 43-yard touchdown. Veteran Lavelle Hawkins produced a 45-yard touchdown after breaking a tackle and making defenders miss. He made the grab after the ball bounced off his body high into the air. The 49ers also got spectacular plays from outside linebacker Cam Johnson. Johnson made a strong case for a roster spot. He had two sacks and also blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown.

Three things: 49ers-Chargers

August, 29, 2013
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Three things to watch for Thursday night in the San Francisco 49ers' final exhibition of the 2013 season, set for 10 p.m. ET against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium:

1. Final QB impressions. The 49ers already named Colt McCoy as their No. 2 quarterback behind starter Colin Kaepernick. The team also released Scott Tolzien, further paring down any competition at the position. This game should provide rookie seventh-round choice B.J. Daniels another opportunity to show he belongs in the team's plans as a developmental player. The 49ers haven't drafted and developed a late-round quarterback successfully since ... when? Daniels, Nate Davis, Cody Pickett and Ken Dorsey were the only ones San Francisco selected in the final three rounds over the past decade. Meanwhile, veteran Seneca Wallace should get a chance to leave a positive impression. The team could keep him in mind as a veteran fallback should a need arise in the future.

2. Injury list. The 49ers will surely limit or eliminate reps for some key players as the preseason wraps up. Some key depth players will be logging considerable playing time. Can the 49ers get out of this game without losing one of them to a significant injury? By my count, the 49ers lead the NFL with seven players on the reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP) and reserve/non-football injury (NFI) lists: Marcus Lattimore, Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree, Luke Marquardt, Quinton Dial, Tank Carradine and Eric Wright. No more injuries, please.

3. The spectacular. This is the catch-all category for players who appear to significantly help or hurt their chances through big plays or big gaffes. We'll be watching for them.
A potential competition for the San Francisco 49ers' No. 2 quarterback job might have dissipated before it really began.

Colt McCoy is the guy behind the No. 1 guy, coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Sunday night following a 34-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Candlestick Park.

A chronology provides some context:

March 12: The trade sending backup Alex Smith to Kansas City becomes official.

April 2: The 49ers acquire McCoy to be their presumed No. 2 quarterback.

Aug. 8 and 16: McCoy performs unconvincingly in the 49ers' first two exhibition games.

Aug. 22: The 49ers sign free-agent quarterback Seneca Wallace.

Aug. 24: McCoy accepts a reduced salary. The news comes out a day later, at which point McCoy confirms that he accepted the reduction on Saturday night, the 24th.

Aug. 25: McCoy completes 11 of 15 passes for 109 yards and an interception during the 49ers' preseason game against Minnesota. Wallace hardly plays. After the game, Harbaugh tells reporters he "feels real good about Colt as the backup quarterback."

The timeline suggests Wallace's signing helped the 49ers secure a pay reduction from McCoy while providing insurance. That may or may not be the case. We know Colin Kaepernick is the starter and McCoy is the heavy favorite to serve in the No. 2 role, and that Wallace could have some additional time to learn the offense -- perhaps so the 49ers could turn to him later if a need arose.

Teams have until Tuesday to reduce their rosters from the 90-man limit to no more than 75 players. The mandatory reduction to 53-man limits is Saturday.

Three things revisited: Vikings-49ers

August, 25, 2013
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Looking back on three things discussed here before the San Francisco 49ers' third exhibition game of the 2013 preseason, a 34-14 home victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night:

1. Seneca's debut. Coach Jim Harbaugh had indicated that all five quarterbacks would play in this game. Plans change. Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and rookie B.J. Daniels were the only quarterbacks to play meaningful snaps. Scott Tolzien reportedly had back spasms. He did not play. The newly acquired Seneca Wallace got into the game late and completed both attempts for 27 total yards. McCoy completed 11 of 15 passes for 109 yards with one sack, one interception and a 65.7 passer rating. McCoy struggled at times, but he also played for a bit with 49ers backups against Vikings starters. He was effective leading a nine-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that ended on the first play of the fourth quarter. McCoy reportedly took a pay cut to improve his chances for earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Harbaugh told reporters after the game that he was comfortable with McCoy in the No. 2 role.

2. Kaepernick's reps. Kaepernick rebounded from a slow start to complete his final six attempts during a drive that ended with his 5-yard scoring pass to rookie Quinton Patton. Kaepernick got into a rhythm during that drive, including when he completed a pass to Vernon Davis on his third read. That drive featured a 19-yard pass to Patton, 10- and 11-yarders to Davis, 15- and 8-yarders to Marlon Moore, plus the scoring pass. Kaepernick moved effectively to buy time and threw accurately. Kaepernick had attempted only six passes during the preseason before Sunday. His final numbers from this game: 7 of 13 for 72 yards, the one score, no sacks and a 95.7 rating.

3. Baldwin's impact. Recently acquired receiver Jon Baldwin had receptions for 19 and 4 yards. These were his first receptions as a 49er and first of the preseason. San Francisco acquired him from Kansas City. Baldwin beat second-year undrafted free agent Bobby Felder off the line before making a leaping catch for the 19-yard gain. Baldwin made a nice catch away from his body on a low pass, gathering the ball and falling forward for a first down on the 4-yard reception. Starting corner Josh Robinson had the coverage on that play. There was nothing spectacular about Baldwin's debut, but it was a start.

Three things: Vikings-49ers

August, 25, 2013
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Three things to watch for Sunday in the San Francisco 49ers' third exhibition of the 2013 season, set for 8 p.m. ET at home against the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Seneca's debut. Recently signed veteran quarterback Seneca Wallace is scheduled to make his 49ers debut as a candidate for the No. 2 job. Will he provide an attractive alternative to Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and rookie B.J. Daniels? Wallace has little time to learn the 49ers' offense. However, the system does overlap with the one Wallace, 33, ran for years while playing for Mike Holmgren and the Seattle Seahawks. "Zebra" is 11 personnel, "Tiger" is 12 personnel, "Eagle" means four wide receivers and so on. Perhaps that will help Wallace make the transition.

2. Kaepernick's reps. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attempted six passes in the 49ers' first two exhibition games. The other NFC West starters have attempted between 35 and 44 passes through three games. Coach Jim Harbaugh has indicated Kaepernick doesn't really need the reps. He has also said he limits reps based on feel and has limited Kaepernick to guard against something "freakish" happening, an apparent allusion to injury. Those fears appear justified now that the 49ers do not have an appealing backup quarterback, a big change from last season. The 49ers' starter at this point last season, Alex Smith, attempted 19 passes in four 2012 exhibition games, also a low number. Kaepernick attempted 39 as the backup.

3. Baldwin's impact. Recently acquired wide receiver Jon Baldwin is scheduled to make his 49ers debut. The team will be watching to see how Baldwin and the other unestablished wide receivers perform. Baldwin, acquired from Kansas City in the A.J. Jenkins trade, had no receptions in the Chiefs' first two exhibition games. He dropped one pass against San Francisco on Aug. 16.

Seneca Wallace and 49ers' QB picture

August, 21, 2013
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The San Francisco 49ers' reported interest in free-agent quarterback Seneca Wallace affirms concerns over the situation behind starter Colin Kaepernick. The team isn't necessarily banking on Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and B.J. Daniels.



Wallace, like current 49ers backup Colt McCoy, played under current 49ers offensive assistant coach Eric Mangini in 2010. Mangini was the Cleveland Browns' head coach then.

The chart shows starting stats for Wallace and McCoy since 2008. The numbers are fairly similar. Both players are mobile quarterbacks. McCoy has run the ball on 10.1 percent of action plays, compared to 5.4 percent for Wallace. Wallace has a much better touchdown-to-interception ratio, but McCoy has taken sacks more frequently. Their Total QBR scores are similar and below average -- consistent with what we might expect from projected backups.

Wallace was on the Seattle Seahawks' roster when coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over before the 2010 season. They traded Wallace to the Browns for a 2011 conditional pick. Seattle later traded that pick to the Detroit Lions.

Wallace, who recently turned 33, was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2003. The Browns cut him before last season. Wallace was not on a roster during the 2012 regular season. The New Orleans Saints signed and released him this offseason.
Retaining quarterback Alex Smith wasn't a realistic option for the San Francisco 49ers. The salary burden would have affected roster management. Smith's unhappiness as a backup could have affected team dynamics. Trading Smith allowed both sides to move forward. It felt like the right thing to do.

The team is set with Colin Kaepernick as its projected long-term starter. All goals appear to remain in reach as long as Kaepernick is healthy and available. But without Smith, there is no clear backup quarterback in San Francisco. It's a big change for a team that has won playoff games with multiple quarterbacks over the past two seasons.

Colt McCoy was the presumed favorite for the job when San Francisco acquired him from Cleveland. Neither McCoy nor Scott Tolzien has made a positive impression through two exhibition games.

Rookie seventh-round choice B.J. Daniels outperformed them against Kansas City on Friday night, completing 6 of 9 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in his preseason debut. Coach Jim Harbaugh subsequently made it clear Daniels had fought his way into the competition.

"Yes, going into what he did the other night, it was very positive," Harbaugh told reporters Sunday. "And as far as how the reps will go, this week in practice, I plan on it being even with Colt and Scott and B.J. ... When somebody does a good job, you give them a little more."

McCoy has completed 6 of 13 passes for 76 yards and two interceptions in two preseason appearances. The numbers for Tolzien are similarly unconvincing: 18-of-34 for 188 yards, one pick and three sacks.

Harbaugh limited Kaepernick to four snaps against the Chiefs. He said he shortened Kaepernick's night based on feel and was hoping to avoid "anything freakish" happening. The 49ers did juggle their offensive line in the first half, with Adam Snyder getting reps at left tackle. The Chiefs were playing their starters extensively.

The plan is for Kaepernick to play more extensively at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The plan for the backups is evolving. McCoy, Tolzien and Daniels have two games to earn the No. 2 role. It's difficult to imagine the team keeping three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster, particularly based on the way each has played to this point.

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