With Alex Smith Headed to the Chiefs, Who Will Be the 49ers Backup QB in 2013?

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With Alex Smith Headed to the Chiefs, Who Will Be the 49ers Backup QB in 2013?
Image provided by the Associated Press

After yesterday's trade that sent Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for two future draft picks, the 49ers are now in the market for a backup quarterback as they currently only have two quarterbacks on the active roster.

Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be entering his first full season as a starter in 2013, and San Francisco's No. 3 quarterback from last year, Scott Tolzien, will likely remain on the roster in a similar role. Yet there's no question that general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh would like a more talented backup quarterback to replace Kap if something were to happen to him.

There are obviously two routes the team could take from here. The 49ers could look to pick up a young quarterback in the draft who fits their style of offense, or they could go the other route by picking up a veteran quarterback on the free agent market. The only problem with the latter of the two routes is the fact that this year's class of unrestricted free agents is quite weak.

Some of the most notable names are Jason Campbell, David Carr, Josh Johnson and Luke McCown.

Both Johnson and McCown were with the 49ers in camp the last couple of years, but unfortunately for them, neither was able to stay on the roster. Tolzien beat out Johnson for the final quarterback spot in 2012, and McCown was cut prior to the start of the 2011 season. 

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When you look at the top-tier names and the guys the 49ers have brought in before, it becomes apparent that the veteran quarterback route doesn't seem like it's the best fit. The most logical and cost-effective decision would be to go with a rookie quarterback who could run the offense the way Kaepernick does and also possesses his physical skills.

According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Russ Lande of the National Football Post is high on Matt Scott from the University of Arizona as a fourth- or fifth-round pick to the 49ers. I could definitely see this happening after Scott shot up draft boards during the NFL Scouting Combine. Here's a snippet from Lande's scouting report on Scott: "He's an underrated athlete who has a knack for making plays when plays break down."

If San Francisco feels comfortable using one of its mid- to later-round picks on this guy, not many would object. However, if the 49ers want to use one of their five top-100 selections on a guy who may be higher up on their draft board, they can do that as well. A name to watch out for at the end of Round Two or somewhere in the third round is E.J. Manuel out of Florida State.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

He would fit San Francisco even better than Scott would based on his height, weight and 40-yard dash time. All three of those categories were similar to Kaepernick's from his scouting combine performance in 2011. Yet I don't think he has the same arm talent and intangibles as No. 7. Coaches will certainly need to coach Manuel up in certain areas given the fact he's so raw.

That may ultimately end up being a possible deterrent on draft day. The term "raw" is often okay when teams are spending fourth- and fifth-round picks on a player, but no one wants a "raw" player in Round Two, especially when they already have a quarterback under center who is capable of leading them to the Super Bowl.

Maiocco goes on to throw a few more names out there: Collin Klein of Kansas State, MarQueis Gray of Minnesota and Jordan Rodgers of Vanderbilt. Even though all three of those players are well known at the collegiate level, all three are also viewed as players who will need substantial work at the pro level.

There are plenty of names out there who appear to have the ability to fill the role as backup quarterback, but from now until the end of the draft we won't know what Baalke and Harbaugh have up their sleeve.

It will definitely be a position to watch over the next couple of months.

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