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Matt Barkley, San Francisco 49ers Agree to Contract

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 10, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Matt Barkley #12 of the Chicago Bears looks to pass against the Washington Redskins during the game at Soldier Field on December 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Washington defeated Chicago 41-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Quarterback Matt Barkley is on the move again, agreeing to terms on a deal with the San Francisco 49ers, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday. 

Barkley confirmed the news on Twitter:

Matt Barkley @MattBarkley

Back to the golden state.. Hey @49ers, let’s do this! https://t.co/DzrBSxo0w1

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reported the deal is for two years.

After being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, Barkley got his first substantial playing time last season with the Chicago Bears. He started six games, going just 1-5, and threw eight touchdowns with 14 interceptions. 

With the Bears facing an offseason unsettled at quarterback after they announced they released Jay Cutler, keeping Barkley around for depth seemed like a viable option. 

Instead, Barkley was able to parlay the on-field experience he gained in 2016 into a new contract with the 49ers. It's no secret this year's crop of free-agent quarterbacks left a lot to be desired, with Mike Glennon one of the top options to choose from despite throwing a total of 11 passes the past two seasons.

Zac Robinson of Pro Football Focus ranked Barkley as the fourth-best quarterback available in free agency:

Through Weeks 12–15—his first four starts—Barkley sat behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady in terms of overall quarterback grade before recording two poor outings to finish the season. He has shown a considerable uptick in arm strength since entering in NFL in 2013. Barkley’s poise and ability to get through progressions was impressive this past season, but he needs to cut down on the big mistakes that seemed to show up more as the season went on.

Barkley earned his contract by virtue of not having a lot of tape to judge, being 26 years old and showing enough flashes of something to potentially start for a team that is looking to find a quarterback of the future. 

There is still a lot Barkley must prove if he wants to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but by having that four-week flash late last season, it showed 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan there is something to work with and possibly build around. 

Barkley will rejoin Bears teammate Brian Hoyer, whom San Francisco announced Thursday it had reached a deal with.

In an offseason that didn't offer teams much to choose from in free agency and a soft quarterback draft class, Barkley is a low-cost alternative who has the ceiling to become a viable starter for the next five years. 

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