Maiocco: Third exhibition critical for 49ers QBs


Maiocco: Third exhibition critical for 49ers QBs

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Rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick will play with the 49ers' first-team offense against the Houston Texans' first-team defense Saturday night at Candlestick Park.
Coach Jim Harbaugh is going against conventional NFL wisdom that the third exhibition game is the time to get your starters ready for the regular season, which begins 15 days later.
Instead, Harbaugh is using the opportunity to learn more about his backups in a situation that is more like the regular season than anything else this time of year.Typically, when a backup quarterback plays in the exhibition season it's almost impossible to know what it all means. The backup is usually playing with other backups and against non-starting defensive players. Sometimes it's more akin to a college all-star game than actual NFL competition.This third exhibition game, however, should provide Harbaugh and his staff with a good gauge of where Kaepernick stands in his readiness to lead an NFL offense into a regular-season game.

RELATED: 49ers notes -- QB rotation of Smith, Kaepernick, Smith
Harbaugh has not announced whom will start for the 49ers in the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the Seattle Seahawks. We can all assume the quarterback will be Alex Smith, based on Harbaugh's comments last week that Smith has gained "separation" in the competition with Kaepernick.And, indeed, Harbaugh said Smith will start Saturday against the Texans. But Harbaugh is also clearly planning for the possibility the 49ers will need to replace Smith at some point in the regular season.Eighteen teams in the NFL last season had their backup quarterbacks play the equivalent of at least two games. So, yes, the odds are against Smith playing the entire season.Harbaugh has heaped effusive praise onto both Smith and Kaepernick during training camp. But we don't know if Harbaugh really believes he has a capable starting quarterback to open the season.RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers' 53-man roster projection
Smith certainly needs more work in the West Coast system. But rather than playing the first half and opening the third quarter with the starters, Smith will share his prep time with the rookie.Kaepernick is listed as the No. 2, but he can go up or down based on this performance. If Kaepernick demonstrates his readiness, Harbaugh will have Smith on a shorter leash in the first half of the season.The 49ers signed veteran Josh McCown as a third quarterback -- an insurance policy. If Harbaugh determines Kaepernick simply is not ready, perhaps McCown would be the first quarterback called upon if a backup is needed in the regular season.Typically, the third exhibition game is considered the most important because it's the closest thing resembling a regular-season game.For the 49ers, it's the most important game because it might shape how Harbaugh handles his quarterbacks in the regular season.

49ers scheduled to meet with Garrett, the likely No. 1 overall pick

49ers scheduled to meet with Garrett, the likely No. 1 overall pick

The 49ers have a visit scheduled with the presumptive top pick in the upcoming draft.

The 49ers, owners of the No. 2 overall selection, will visit with Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett, he told reporters Thursday at this pro day, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

General manager John Lynch attended Garrett's pro day workout in College Station, Texas.

"I thought it was impressive," Lynch told Wilson in a video posted on social media. "Here’s this kid who really doesn’t need to show everyone much more, but yet he shows up and runs a 40. I think it just speaks to the kind of kid he is. It was impressive. It’s well-documented – I’m not saying anything ground-breaking – he’s a special athlete.

"He checks all the boxes. That’s why people are talking about him in the way they are."

Garrett said he has upcoming visits with the 49ers and Chicago Bears.

Each NFL team is allowed to bring in 30 draft-eligible prospects from outside their area. The 49ers have their list of 30 prospects already finalized, Lynch said.

In addition, teams can visit with an unlimited number of local prospects. The 49ers’ local pro day -- featuring athletes from Stanford, Cal, San Jose State and prospects from the Bay Area who played college football elsewhere – is scheduled for April 12 in Santa Clara.

The Cleveland Browns hold the No. 1 overall pick, and coach Hue Jackson ruled out the possibility of the team trading that selection for a quarterback. Garrett is considered the overwhelming favorite to be chosen with the No. 1 overall selection.

"We're getting closer to it but the draft is the 27th (of April),'' Jackson said at the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's a little soon to really say it's this guy or that guy.”

Garrett (6 foot 4, 272 pounds) recorded 31 sacks and 47 tackles for loss during his three-year college career.

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays angry

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays angry

Among the players the 49ers first targeted for their rebuilding project is a wide receiver who has nine years of NFL experience and turns 31 early in training camp.

Coach Kyle Shanahan pinpointed Pierre Garçon to be his top addition at wide receiver. Garçon is coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his career. His career-best output came was his 113-catch, 1,346-yard season in 2014 with Shanahan as Washington's offensive coordinator.

“I’ve always loved Pierre just because of how angry he plays,” Shanahan said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “He gives you his all. He plays extremely aggressive. The best leaders are the guys who lead by example. Pierre’s not going to say much, but you know he’s going to go out there and fight every single play no matter what the situation is, whether it’s run or pass. That elevates everyone around him.”

Within the first two days of free agency, the 49ers signed Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. The 49ers had earlier signed slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to an extension, while not pursuing Quinton Patton, who signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets.

“You go into free agency and you study all the free agents who are available and then you stack them and see who can help you team the most,” Shanahan said. “Pierre was at the top of that list. Also knowing him made me feel better about that because you know exactly what you’re getting.

“But it all starts with the tape. It was very encouraging to turn on the tape and watch the level Pierre is still playing at. When you see that on tape and you also know the type the guy. I was very excited to get him.”