With new coach Jim Harbaugh already hired to lead the team from the sidelines, it has been no secret this offseason that the 49ers are on the hunt for a new quarterback to lead the team on the field.
While Harbaugh has openly discussed his hope that veteran quarterback Alex Smith will consider returning to the 49ers next season, the 49ers also have to look at quarterback prospects that they can groom into their quarterback of the future, if not next year’s starter.
Today, the 49ers took a step in this direction as they interviewed quarterback prospects Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. While NFL teams would like the opportunity to interview as many prospects as possible, they are limited to whom they can interview at the combine. The fact that the 49ers chose to interview Newton and Kaepernick is an indication that they could be considering taking one of the two QB’s with their first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Newton, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner who also led Auburn to the national title, has had an impressive combine. He has posted times of 4.58 and 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, and has shown off his throwing ability in the deep-throw session.
Newton is transitioning from the spread offense he ran at Auburn, as he prepares to the more standardized offenses ran in the NFL. He has learned to throw from the three-, five- and seven-step drops, although his footwork still needs to be developed further. His throws tended to be a little wild-high, however, he did display very nice arm strength.
Kaepernick displayed his throwing strength throughout the throwing sessions at the combine as well, and also showed he is comfortable and capable of making throws from the three- and five-step drops.
Kaepernick’s draft stock has been rising lately, and some have claimed that whichever team drafts Kaepernick will wind up with the best QB in this year’s draft class. Scouts have claimed that Kaepernick will need to put on some weight and muscle before he should be drafted ahead of other more physically ready quarterbacks, although he has already added eight pounds of muscle since the Senior Bowl.
The 49ers will also be looking at running back prospects during the combine. The 49ers need to add a third running back to the roster to back up Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon, who will occupy the top two RB positions this upcoming season.