San Francisco 49ers: Josh Johnson Signing Sends Big Message to Colin Kaepernick

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIMarch 23, 2012

It does not require much deep thinking to comprehend what a clear message the San Francisco 49ers' newest free-agent signing sent on Thursday.

The 49ers signed their second free-agent quarterback of the offseason, locking up former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Josh Johnson to a two-year deal.  The signing assumed to have something to do with coach Jim Harbaugh's connections to him at the University of San Diego, as well as Johnson growing up in Oakland.

The signing also had a lot to do with other more important things.  Most notably, it had to do with the quarterback situation.

No, Johnson will not fight Alex Smith for the starting quarterback position in Week 1.  I am pretty sure last season's trip to the NFC Championship was enough for Smith to land that gig.

However, it is who sits behind Smith that is causing the biggest stir throughout the organization right now.  Who is the backup quarterback?

In most cases, arguing about who the backup quarterback is nearly pointless and poses zero discussion towards the actual success of this team heading forward.

However, the 49ers are a unique situation, and the Johnson signing gives us a clear insight into how the 49ers are thinking about their future under center.

Until now, Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback in waiting and the next player to line up under center.  But we have yet to see him play in the NFL, nor have any inclination of just how good he is or possibly could be.

The 49ers' acquisition of Johnson on Thursday told us plain and simple—Kaepernick is not the team's quarterback of the future, and he is definitely not NFL-ready.

Of course, it is hard to see how a quarterback coming out of Nevada and the pistol offense could become NFL-ready that quick.  It took Smith seven years, seven offensive coordinators and Harbaugh to help him get into a true NFL offense and away from the spread offense at Utah.

Kaepernick has the athleticism, strong arm and build to be an NFL quarterback, but the 49ers obviously see something with his accuracy or awareness in the pocket that turns them off.

So just in case, they brought in Johnson, a quarterback with a similar set of skills, but further along in his NFL progression.

The gut feeling with the acquisition is that at the best, the 49ers positioned themselves to have two athletic quarterbacks competing against one another and getting better in the process.  At the worst, San Francisco has zero faith that Kaepernick can one day become the franchise quarterback, judging by the progress he has made so far.

With the 49ers' recent roster moves, it is safe to assume the latter.

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