Harbaugh and his 49ers QB carousel

Harbaugh and his 49ers QB carousel
May 18, 2014, 11:00 am
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The survival rate for backup quartebacks on the 49ers is one of the lowest on the team. (AP)


Jim Harbaugh believes in competition at every position, especially quarterback. (AP)

Since Jim Harbaugh became coach in January of 2011, the 49ers have cycled through more than a dozen quarterbacks behind starters Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers added two more quarterbacks last week to compete for roster spots, as Harbaugh is constantly searching for the right combination of quarterbacks.

Veteran Josh Johnson was signed to compete with McLeod Bethel-Thompson and newly signed Kory Faulkner for the No. 3 job. Blaine Gabbert appears to be the favorite to serve as Colin Kaepernick’s backup.

With a roster loaded with talent at other positions, it seems to be a good bet the 49ers will keep only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. The 49ers went with two quarterbacks for the final five games, plus playoffs, last season.

[RELATED: Johnson: 49ers job a better fit for skills with Kap at QB]

But, nonetheless, there will be competition for the reserve spots:

Here’s a look at the quarterback who have been under contract with the 49ers during Harbaugh's tenure:

Colin Kaepernick (April 29, 2011): He became the first quarterback added in the Harbaugh era when the 49ers traded up in the second round to select him with the No. 36 overall pick. He has been the starter since midway through the 2012 season.

Jeremiah Masoli (July 27, 2011): The former Oregon star had to transfer to Mississippi to complete his turbulent college career. He never appeared in an exhibition game. Released on Aug. 23, 2011. He is currently a backup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

David Carr (released July 27, 2011): He served as Alex Smith’s backup in 2011 and was under contract to the 49ers during the 2011 offseason. But the 49ers cut him immediately after the lockout concluded. He is a free agent and has not played since seeing limited duty with the New York Giants in 2012.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson (July 28, 2011): Signed as an undrafted free agent from Sacramento State, he did not appear in any exhibition games as a rookie. Released Sept. 4, 2011, and ended up going to Miami and Minnesota before a return to the 49ers (see below).

Alex Smith (July 30, 2011): He met with Harbaugh when the lockout was lifted for a day during the draft and agreed to take coaching material and begin implementing the new system in a series of workouts at San Jose State that became known as “Camp Alex.” Smith signed a one-year contract. He re-signed after the season and played the best football of his career before sustaining a concussion in 2012 and losing his job to Kaepernick. Traded to the Kansas City Chiefs on March 12, 2013, for two second-round draft picks.

Josh McCown (Aug. 17, 2011): The 49ers considered Daunte Culpepper but ended up signing McCown. Released on Sept. 3, 2011, at the final cuts. He started five games for Chicago Bears last season and played exceptionally well with 13 touchdowns and one interception. He signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason and has a legitimate chance at a starting job.

Scott Tolzien (Sept. 4, 2011): The 49ers claimed him off waivers from the San Diego Chargers and he served as the team’s No. 3 quarterbacks in 2011 and 2012. Released on Aug. 26, 2013, and ended up with Green Bay. He started two games last season and completed 55 of 90 passes (61.1 percent) for 717 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions.

Josh Johnson (March 23, 2012): Joined Smith, Kaepernick and Tolzien on the roster with, seemingly, a legitimate chance to earn a roster spot. He outperformed Tolzien in the exhibition season. Released Sept. 2, 2012 at the final cuts (see below).

Colt McCoy (April 2, 2013): Acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns for a sixth-round draft pick. McCoy ended up restructuring his contract before the start of the regular season and served as Kaepernick’s backup last season. The 49ers showed no interest in bringing him back, and he signed with Washington as a free agent.

B.J. Daniels (April 27, 2013): Selected in the seventh round of the draft. He had a strong exhibition season and made the 49ers’ 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback out of camp. Inexplicably, released Oct. 1, 2013, and ended up with the Seattle Seahawks.

Seneca Wallace (Aug. 22, 2013): The veteran appeared for a brief outing in one exhibition game. Released Aug. 31. His departure was shrouded in controversy. He did not attend the final exhibition game in San Diego, and Harbaugh said Wallace told him he was retiring. Wallace said the 49ers used him as leverage to get McCoy to sign a restructured contract. Wallace did not retire. He played in two games, with one start, for the Packers last season.

John Skelton (Oct. 2, 2013): A week after an impressive workout, the 49ers signed the veteran and cut Daniels. Released Oct. 9, 2013, to make room for . . .

McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Oct. 9, 2013): The 49ers brought back Bethel-Thompson after Minnesota waived him. Thompson spent six weeks on the 53-man roster. Waived on Oct. 26, 2013, and was re-signed to the practice squad. He re-signed with the 49ers in January.

Blaine Gabbert (March 11, 2014): The 49ers acquired Gabbert from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round draft pick. (If he starts eight or more games this season, the 49ers will also owe the Jaguars another pick in the 2015 draft). With a fully guaranteed $2.011 million salary, Gabbert is the heavy favorite to be the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback.

Kory Faulkner (May 11, 2014): The 49ers awarded the undrafted rookie from Southern Illinois a modest $3,000 signing bonus.

Josh Johnson (May 14, 2014): After spending last season as a backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, Johnson is back with another chance to compete for a roster spot. He believes the 49ers’ offense has evolved to a point that it better suits his skillset. “Obviously, Alex was the starter then and Kap is the starter now,” Johnson said. “Kap is an athletic quarterback. I’m an athletic quarterback, as well.