Editor's note: Matt Maiocco is in Santa Clara Tuesday through Thursday for the 49ers’ three-day minicamp. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com and tune in nightly to SportsNet Central and Yahoo SportsTalk Live for comprehensive coverage.
SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is in competition for the backup job, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.
To say he’s the overwhelming favorite to win the job is an understatement.
The 49ers acquired Gabbert in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the first day of the new league year. They gave up a sixth-round draft pick and assumed Gabbert’s fully guaranteed salary of more than $2 million for the upcoming season.
General manager Trent Baalke has the final say over the 53-man roster, and he would have to be convinced that any other quarterback is worth two salaries, including Gabbert’s price tag, to win the No. 2 job.
Really, the bigger question is whether the 49ers will keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Last season, Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy were the top two quarterbacks.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who spent six weeks as the No. 3 on the 53-man roster, finished the season on the practice squad.
Gabbert, Josh Johnson, Bethel-Thompson and Kory Faulkner are battling for reserve quarterback roles with the 49ers.
With a roster loaded with talent at other positions, it seems like a good bet the 49ers will keep an extra player at another position rather than a third quarterback.
And if that’s the case, Faulkner, an undrafted rookie from Southern Illinois, appears to have placed himself in serious contention for a spot on the practice squad.
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“Kory is one of those guys that impresses upon me that he’s the kind of guy at some point in his career, probably turn the keys over to him,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Tuesday. “And that’s a long ways off, but he definitely does some things that we like.”
Roman spoke about how Faulkner (6 foot 4, 227 pounds) did not get a lot of help from his offensive line – a line that allowed 24 sacks last season.
“Now, he had no offensive line in college,” Roman said. “No offense to those players. He can throw under duress. Let me tell you that.
“The first play here, he had really good protection and said to him, ‘What’d you think of that? That was pretty neat wasn’t it? You haven’t had that in a while.’ He had a big smile on his face. Yeah, he had to operate under duress. His first read in college was to avoid the free rusher and go from there.”