NFL Draft 2012: 4 Quarterbacks Who Must Be on the San Francisco 49ers' Big Board
However, that does not mean they are not thinking of using one of their seven picks on that position.
In order to better prepare for the future they need to consider a play-caller with one of their middle- or late-round selections.
Last year, they went out and traded up in the draft to grab Colin Kaepernick in the second round. With his assumed development over the past year and Alex Smith’s likely return, that kind of move is unnecessary this time around.
Creating competition for the primary backup spot and possible future starting role should be the goal.
Here are four quarterbacks who fit that mold and must be on the 49ers big board:
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In the unlikely scenario the Niners choose to go for a quarterback earlier rather than later, Nick Foles should be their guy. A product from the University of Arizona, he will likely be selected in either the third or fourth round.
Why is he of interest? He can flat-out throw.
He finished his Wildcat career as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards, total offense, completions and completion attempts. Plus, in his senior season he connected on 69.1% of his passes for over 4000 yards.
In addition, his 6’5” frame gives him a distinct advantage at the line of scrimmage. His release is high enough that there is very low risk of his pass attempts getting knocked down.
If Smith does not re-sign and/or they are not sold on Kaepernick’s improvement, Foles needs to be on the Niners' radar.
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In Jim Harbaugh’s offensive system, quarterbacks must be capable of making plays with their arm and their feet.
Russell Wilson is skilled at both.
After Foles, Wilson should be the next-most enticing name on the 49ers' board. Standing at 5’11” he is not as strong of a passer as his Arizona counterpart, but he is more mobile.
In his college career at NC State and Wisconsin he rushed for a total of 24 touchdowns and nearly 1,500 yards. Not only that, but he proved to be a passing threat as well; throwing for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in each season after his freshman year.
Likely to be selected in the fifth round, though, Wilson is not so talented that he can immediately step in and lead the team.
He is a player who can come in to learn the system in his first couple of years while pushing Colin Kaepernick for the primary backup role.
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Aside from the top picks in this year’s draft, Kellen Moore could be the smartest offensive mind entering the NFL. En route to becoming the winningest quarterback in the history of NCAA Division I, Moore received national attention for his football IQ while at Boise State.
As a four-year starter for the Broncos he never had a completion percentage lower than 64%, threw for less than 3400 yards or 25 touchdowns or had more than 10 interceptions in a single season.
His small stature and lack of arm strength, however, will at best make him a late round selection.
Those physical deficiencies aside, his intelligence with the football and his winning mentality is what should interest the Niners.
He would certainly be a project for the 49ers’ staff to bring up to the physical standards of the NFL, but if Smith re-signs they will have time to do that. Then, by the time his contract has expired, Moore would be an option to step in.
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Much like Moore, BJ Coleman will be a late-round option for the red and gold. He possesses enough physical attributes, 6’5” with a strong arm, to warrant consideration.
In fact, according to some sources, his showing at this year’s East-West Shrine game may have made him worth more than just a look.
With Coleman, however, the 49ers would face a completely different challenge than they would with Moore: he will likely be physically ready to play sooner than he understands and digests the playbook.
The 49ers staff will have to make a choice.
There is no doubt that Coleman is gifted, throwing for nearly 7,000 yards in his three-year career at Tennessee-Chattanooga. Yet, he is only worth a pick if they believe he is willing and able to learn the complex Harbaugh system.