San Francisco 49ers: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart at Quarterback
The San Francisco 49ers have been blessed with some of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game.
Three Hall of Fame quarterbacks have worn the red and gold, including Joe Montana, Steve Young and Y.A. Tittle. Several other top quarterbacks such as Frankie Albert and John Brodie have also led the 49ers offense.
Heading into the 2014 season, the 49ers have five quarterbacks currently on the roster. They will be competing for what will most likely be three roster spots.
Let's take a closer look at how the depth chart could play out and see who most likely sticks and who doesn't.
Colin Kaepernick is the unquestioned leader of the 49ers offense. Now entering his fourth year with the team, he has a firm grasp of the system at a time when his athleticism is still incredible.
In 2013, Kaepernick started all 16 regular-season games for the 49ers as well as their three playoff games.
During the regular season, he completed 243 passes in 416 attempts, good for 3,197 yards. He threw for 21 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.
Kaepernick is a dual-threat quarterback and can devastate an opposing defense with his strong arm or his ability to run the football. This past season, Kaepernick ran for 524 yards and four touchdowns in 92 attempts.
In the 2012 season, he had the 49ers only five yards away from the go-ahead score late in the Super Bowl game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Kaepernick followed that up in the 2013 season by bringing the 49ers to the brink of victory in the NFC title game.
His pass was just a couple of inches short of what could have been the game-winning touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. Instead, Richard Sherman tipped the ball, and it was intercepted by Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith. This propelled the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
Kaepernick will again lead the 49ers offense, and he hopes to culminate his season with a Super Bowl victory.
The 49ers seemed to have very little confidence in Colt McCoy, last year's backup. In reality, if all goes well for the 49ers, Gabbert won't play much this season, either.
Gabbert, like Kaepernick, will be in his fourth NFL season. He will likely hold down the backup role for the 49ers.
However, if the 49ers need to utilize Gabbert, he does have some playing experience. He started 27 games for the Jaguars over his three seasons there. Although he did not fare well, Gabbert was also not surrounded by a lot of offensive talent.
If pressed into service, Gabbert should have a reasonable chance of helping the 49ers win. He has actually started more regular-season games than Kaepernick. Now he has a much better supporting cast, which will be a huge benefit if Gabbert is forced into action.
Josh Johnson and Jim Harbaugh have a long and successful history. When Harbaugh coached at the University of San Diego, Johnson became his quarterback.
Johnson was not a highly regarded prospect at the time, but under the guidance of Harbaugh, he became a fine player and made it to the NFL.
Harbaugh and Johnson have a good relationship, which is one of the main reasons Johnson is back in San Francisco vying for a job.
In 2013, Johnson looked good in the preseason with the 49ers, but he was cut. He caught on with the Cleveland Browns but did not throw a pass during the season.
Johnson's skills are very similar to those of 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He is extremely mobile and also has a strong arm. As a third quarterback, Johnson would be an ideal fit.
The most likely role for Johnson will be on the sideline wearing a baseball cap. He will probably be the emergency third quarterback. If this is the case, Johnson will play only if both Kaepernick and Gabbert are injured during a game.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson ended the 2013 season in a 49ers uniform. He served as the emergency quarterback and was never needed.
Bethel-Thompson has served three years in the NFL and has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game. In the upcoming season, the odds are stacked against him once again. At best, he will be the third starter, but even that is far from a certainty.
Bethel-Thompson grew up and attended high school in San Francisco. He will have lots of fans pulling for him to make it, but his chances are slim.
Kory Faulkner signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent. He played his college football with the Salukis of Southern Illinois.
In case you always wanted to know, a saluki is a type of hunting dog similar in size and build to a greyhound.
Faulkner had a solid senior season at Southern Illinois. He completed 165 of his 272 pass attempts, good for 1,997 yards. Faulkner threw for 18 touchdowns and ran for two more. He had four interceptions this past season.
As reported by Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, Faulkner was the only quarterback in the 49ers' rookie minicamp. This gave him a great opportunity to show the coaches what he could do.
Although Faulkner has an outside chance to make the roster, the more likely scenario is that he will be on the 49ers' practice squad.
In order for San Francisco to put Faulkner on the practice squad, he would first have to pass through waivers. In 2013 when the 49ers tried to do this with B.J. Daniels, he was claimed by the Seahawks and the 49ers lost him.