Maiocco: 49ers Mailbag: Masoli as No. 3 QB?

August 7, 2011, 4:40 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers are four practice days away from their first exhibition game of the season, slated for Friday in New Orleans.Coach Jim Harbaugh is giving the team Sunday off, as part of the new NFL rules that dictate that players must have at least one day off during every seven-day period of training camp.
"It's a mandatory day off," Harbaugh said. "Twenty-four hours of players off from meetings, anything that's mandatory including practice."RELATED: Camp report (86): 49ers' Willis looks like Willis
There are still a lot of things unsettled with the 49ers after eight days of practice. Most starting jobs are determined. But many roster spots and playing-time roles are still being haggled over as the exhibition season approaches."So we still got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of practice," Harbaugh said. "Those are valuable practice days"Let's now open the 49ers Mailbag to answer some questions:Q: so is going to be alex and 2 rookies at QB then? (@JesusMartinez18)
My answer: Harbaugh said Saturday that Jeremiah Masoli throws the ball like a professional quarterback, and he will remain on the depth chart as a passer. The club originally signed Masoli to be a running back and "jack of all trades."I doubt Harbaugh is satisfied with a quarterback group heading into the regular season that consists of Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Jeremiah Masoli. That would be very risky.But Harbaugh is not enamored of any of the veteran quarterbacks on the free-agent market, either.The available quarterbacks include Brodie Croyle, Jake Delhomme, Charlie Frye, J.P. Losman, Patrick Ramsey, Brian St. Pierre, Brian Brohm and Marc Bulger, who last week announced his retirement. There's also Troy Smith, but we know he's not coming back. He was a quarterback the 49ers picked up last year after the final cuts. So the 49ers will keep an eye on the waiver wire.
I'm told if there's a quarterback who shakes free or becomes available that Harbaugh likes, the club will make an effort to get him. The No. 1 name on everybody's list is Tampa Bay backup quarterback Josh Johnson, who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and greatly desires a chance to play for him again.Johnson enters the final year of his contract, and there are no long-term hopes of being a starter with Josh Freeman firmly entrenched as the Buccaneers' starter. There would be hope for Johnson if he came to the 49ers, as Smith is signed to just a one-year deal and Kaepernick is promising but very raw. Q: seemed like Alex checked down to Gore A LOT today- part of offense or no WR separation? (@liquidhavok)
My answer: How has Alex Smith looked at practice? I see no discernible difference from last year. He has thrown the ball pretty well on deep and intermediate passes. His consistency hasn't been there on throws at the sideline. And, of course, he checks down a lot.REWIND: Camp report (85) 49ers' Smith greeted warmly
Separation from the wide receivers is not the issue. One of the knocks on Smith throughout his career is that he does not "throw the receiver open." Steve Young always said that it's rare in the NFL for receivers to get open. And when they are open, those windows shut rather quickly. Great quarterbacks put the ball in spots where only the intended target can catch them. Q: out of all the rookies, who's performing good, besides aldon smith and kaepernick? (@FranchizeWockee)
My answer: Cornerback Chris Culliver has looked very good. He's got speed and good change-of-direction. He is impressive, but he still has a long way to go before he can be expected to cover polished NFL receivers.Receiver Ronald Johnson looks good, too. He is definitely in the mix to contribute, possibly as the fourth receiver. Running back Kendall Hunter has tremendous moves and can get to the corner, but it'll be tough for him to get on the field a whole lot behind Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon.Also, I'm impressed with Bruce Miller and how quickly he has adapted to his new position of fullback. The linemen -- Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person -- are both working with the second-team offense. Kilgore is lining up at left guard, behind Mike Iupati, and Person is at right tackle, behind Anthony Davis. They are raw, and getting coached-up daily on proper technique. I do not envision either of those players being active on game days.Of the undrafted guys, nose tackle Ian Williams has a chance to provide good depth along the defensive line. I like the group of young, small-college receivers the 49ers brought in. Chris Hogan, Tyler Beiler and Joe Hastings can play a little, but the numbers game does not work out to their advantage. Watching the offensive line, Donovan Edwards of Cal has held up very well in one-on-one drills. He's working at third-team left tackle.
Q: projected o line? Davis rachal Goodwin iupati and Staley? (@sportsguya)
My answer: That's the way I see it, too: Right tackle Anthony Davis, right guard Chilo Rachal, center Jonathan Goodwin, left guard Mike Iupati and left tackle Joe Staley.I asked Harbaugh on Saturday for his view on the offensive line and which starters have solidified their spots. Obviously, he did not want to name names."It'll be our five best starters will be in there, continue to have a rep chart, not a depth chart, but you know it's starting to take shape and there's still quite a few battles for who's going to be the starter, who's going to be the contributors, who's going to be the backups, who's going to make the team," he answered. "So quite a lot still going on in the offensive line."Davis looks a lot more fluid and comfortable this season in pass protection with a year under his belt. I've seen Rachal still struggle some in one-on-one drills, as well as staying low and picking up stunts on the inside. Tony Wragge is working behind Rachal at right guard, though I'd suspect at some point Adam Snyder will slide to backup guard after Goodwin replaces him as the first-team center.

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