49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 18, 2013
QB Watch: Josh Johnson waiting for a call; what about Thigpen?


****UPDATE**** The Titans today announced the release of veteran Matt Hasselbeck. The 49ers tried to sign the 14-year veteran in 2011. ESPN reported that the 49ers are one of several teams that have shown initial interest in Hasselbeck, 37. The others are: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans, the Giants and Tampa.

****UPDATE II***** Hasselbeck is reportedly close to a deal with the Colts.

Who will join Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien on the 49ers' quarterback depth chart in 2013? So far, the answer is unknown. The quarterback market has been mostly quiet during free agency, and it's likely to remain so early in the week while owners, coaches and general managers are at the annual league meeting in Phoenix. (One free-agent QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also is in Phoenix; he's reportedly met with the Titans and Bengals).

A year ago, the 49ers signed former Jim Harbaugh protege Josh Johnson, and he spent the offseason in Santa Clara. I spoke to Johnson today, who said he hadn't personally heard from the 49ers. He's visited the Bengals and said "a couple more teams" had expressed interest though he had no visits scheduled as of now. Last year he visited the 49ers and the Redskins. He was picked up by the Browns in late December.

Johnson, who also played for the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions last year, said he wouldn't rule out the 49ers despite the fact they chose Tolzien over him at the end of the exhibition season. "It just depends on the situation," he said. "I'm just trying to find the best fit."

Another name that has been linked to the 49ers is Tyler Thigpen. The Coastal Carolina quarterback has been working out alongside Kaepernick and a few other 49ers - including wideout A.J. Jenkins - at CES Performance in Atlanta since mid February. Thigpen has two criteria that Harbaugh holds most dear in a quarterback - he's ultra competitive and he has good athleticism.

Thigpen's stat line won't bowl anyone over. The former seventh round pick by the Vikings in 2007 has a career 72.5 passer rating. In his most prolific season, 2008, he started 11 games for the Chiefs, but only one of them was a win. He also ran for 383 yards that season and scored three rushing touchdowns.

In his defense, Thigpen has played on some terrible teams - the Chiefs, Dolphins and Bills - in recent years, and he's had a revolving door of coaches and coordinators. The 49ers, of course, had a quarterback, Alex Smith, with a similar storyline that they turned into a coveted starter in two years. That is, they have confidence that if a player has raw ability, they can mold him into a quality passer.

I asked Harbaugh about Thigpen last week after he spoke to the San Jose State football team. He said he wouldn't discuss the team's plans for free agency.

Signing someone like Thigpen also would not preclude the 49ers from finding a quarterback in the draft. However, two passers that seem to fit the 49ers' mold, Florida State's E.J. Manuel and Arizona's Matt Scott, likely will be coveted by quarterback-starved teams. The 49ers attended Scott's pro-day workout earlier this month. He has had a private workout with the Eagles and has one scheduled with the Bills.

Free-agent QBs
Jason Campbell
Kellen Clemens
Ryan Fitzpatrick Fitzpatrick agreed to a deal with Tennessee
Rex Grossman
Caleb Hanie
Brian Hoyer
Josh Johnson
Kevin Kolb
Byron Leftwich
Matt Leinart
Josh McCown
Luke McCown
Jordan Palmer
Brady Quinn
Drew Stanton Stanton signed with the Cardinals
Tyler Thigpen

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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