Five 49ers to watch: 1. Third quarterback

August 26, 2012, 5:05 pm
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(This is the final part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition game Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV), at the Denver Broncos.)The 49ers have their top two quarterbacks. Alex Smith is the starter, and Colin Kaepernick is the backup.After that, it's a toss-up.Coach Jim Harbaugh has stated repeatedly he believes the 49ers have four NFL-caliber quarterbacks on the roster. The 49ers signed Josh Johnson, formerly Tampa Bay's backup, to a contract this offseason that guaranteed him 350,000. The 49ers claimed Scott Tolzien off waivers last summer.Johnson and Tolzien are in the midst of a tight race to be the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback.
Alex Smith is expected to play a little more in Sunday's nationally televised game against the Broncos. The 49ers still need to get work for Kaepernick. So the 49ers might not be able to play all four of their quarterbacks in this game.And Harbaugh did not telegraph his move of which quarterback will go into the game after Smith and Kaepernick. That quarterback will have an opportunity to nail down a roster spot with the 49ers andor showcase his skills for other NFL teams.The 49ers do not want to keep four quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Ideally, they'd like to pick up a late-round draft pick for either Johnson or Tolzien.If they can't find a trade partner, then they have two options: 1) Keep all four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for a while in hopes that another team will need to trade for a quarterback early in the season; 2) Make the difficult call to cut either Johnson or Tolzien.Johnson has completed 6 of 10 passes (60 percent) for 94 yards with no TDs and no interceptions in two exhibition games. Tolzien is 14 of 22 (63.6 percent) for 107 yards with no TDs and one interception (hit while throwing against Minnesota in the exhibition opener).

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