2011 NFL Draft: Could Jimmy Clausen Be the Next San Francisco 49ers QB?

Robert WayerskiCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 21: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks to pass the ball during the game against the Univeristy of Connecticut Huskies at Notre Dame Stadium on November 21, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. Connecticut defeated Notre Dame 33-30 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If the Carolina Panthers' first pick is either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert the Niners should immediately be on the phone inquiring about the availability of Jimmy Clausen.

The idea of acquiring a quarterback who only threw three touchdowns—against nine interceptions—last year may not excite very many people, but it could make a lot of sense.

The asking price would be the key: What would the Panthers want for a QB that they drafted in the second round last year but have already given up on?

My guess is they would probably be willing to move him for a third-round pick. Anything less than that and they would probably just let him compete for the job with the incoming rookie.

CBSsports.com has four quarterbacks projected to go in the third-fourth round range: Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Ricky Stanzi and Pat Devlin. These are the QBs that San Francisco may be able to target if they were to keep that pick.

I believe that after his pro-day Kaepernick will be off of that list. Clausen meanwhile is more pro-ready than Dalton or Devlin and he has more upside than Stanzi.

Of course, there are reasons you could point out to not bring in the former Notre Dame star.

His accuracy has been questioned at times (he only had a 52.8 completion percentage last season) but it was good in college (68.1 percent his senior year)and his attitude has been less than ideal throughout his football career. Some would also say that you could acquire Matt Flynn for a similar pick.

One thing that also could make Clausen attractive is his salary.

He signed a four-year, $6.3 million rookie contract which includes $2.5 million in first-year salary and bonuses. That means for the next three years he is going to make just over a million dollars. There are escalators in the fourth year, but they are mainly based on playing time.

Even if he is a backup, Clausen is a reasonably-priced one. If the team were to trade for Matt Flynn, he would likely demand a new contract and it would be a large risk based on a small sample size.

This of course, is all based on the Panthers taking a quarterback first overall.

It would be interesting though, if the first-year head coach from Stanford brings in a young QB from Notre Dame with his third-round pick.