49ers Mailbag: Competition at guard, quarterback

49ers Mailbag: Competition at guard, quarterback
March 24, 2012, 3:26 pm
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It's difficult to unequivocally refer to it as the craziest week of free agency in 49ers history, but I can't recall another time even coming close.Just think, within the past week . . .--Peyton Manning narrowed his choice to three teams, and the 49ers were under serious consideration;
--Alex Smith had a plane ticket in hand to take a free-agent visit to the Miami Dolphins;
--Manning signed with the Broncos; coach Jim Harbaugh visited with Smith; and a couple days later, Smith re-signed, just as everyone figured would happen since late November;RELATED: Full details of Alex Smith's contract
--Receiver Mario Manningham didn't get the big-money deal he anticipated and signed a two-year deal with the 49ers for far less money than what the Washington Redskins awarded former 49ers receiver Josh Morgan;
--Ted Ginn wrapped up his meetings with three other teams and signed a one-year deal to return to the 49ers;
--And, just as people had speculated could happen since Harbaugh took the job 14 months ago, the 49ers added quarterback Josh Johnson, who played under Harbaugh at the University of San Diego from 2004 to 2006.Free agency is pretty much over for the 49ers, so let's catch our breath and open the 49ers Mailbag . . .Are the 49ers planning on signing RG or something they will be forced to address in draft? @NorcalGREAT
Right now, Daniel Kilgore is the player penciled in to start at right guard. The 49ers traded up to select him in the fifth round of last year's draft. (It's not uncommon to find starting guards that late in the draft.)Kilgore played one snap of offense last season. He really didn't have a chance to beat out Adam Snyder or Chilo Rachal because of the lack of an offseason program due to the lockout. He'll get a chance to win the starting job this year, however.The 49ers will probably still bring in a veteran guard. They could wait to sign Leonard Davis, who underwent recent foot surgery and is expected to be fully healthy in two months. The 49ers do not have much cap space, so any veteran they sign would likely be for a minimum-money type of deal.Guard will also be a position the 49ers can look to add in the draft. So while Kilgore is currently atop the depth chart, he'll have to win the job against competition to be added later.Was there a 3rd QB last year? Why add when Colin Kaepernick is the future? @roger_chen
Yes, the third quarterback last season was undrafted rookie Scott Tolzien. He was inactive for all 18 games, including the two playoff games. Tolzien has practice-squad eligibility, so the 49ers will have a chance to keep all four quarterbacks through the 2012 season.The 49ers' decision to sign Johnson is all about competition. Harbaugh loves to promote competition. And there will be plenty of competition at the quarterback position.Alex Smith is the presumptive starter, of course. But if there comes a time when Harbaugh believes one of the other quarterbacks gives the 49ers a better chance to win games, that change will be made.The 49ers were not disappointed in what they saw from Kaepernick behind the scenes. But the club will have no idea what they have in Kaepernick until they see him in a meaningful regular-season situation.I don't see the move to add Johnson as a sign that the 49ers are looking at demoting Smith or Kaepernick. I see it as a move designed to strengthen the position as a whole. The practice and play of the four quarterbacks will determine the order in which the depth chart is stacked at the beginning of the season.Are they going to have enough money to sign Goldson? @mgganimal
Safety Dashon Goldson has not signed his one-year, 6.212 million tender as the 49ers' franchise player. But his unsigned deal counts against the cap. The 49ers would not have to devote more 2012 cap space to sign Goldson to a long-term contract this offseason. In fact, they could actually save quite a bit of money -- if they so desire -- with the conversion of base salary to signing bonus, which would then be prorated for cap purposes over the life of the deal.

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