We're less than a week into the Scott Tolzien experience and we don't really have a whole lot to run with at this point. We know the 49ers had some level of interest in him and Jim Harbaugh further emphasized that in his press conference yesterday. He was asked what he liked about Tolzien and he said:
"I liked him in the eleven on eleven from college, a winner. I liked his mind. I liked how smart he was. I liked him when I went to the combine and there was nobody out on the field yet, but he came out early and was out there throwing the ball around. He was there every day throwing to the backs or to the receivers. He was there on the quarterback's day. He was always the first one out of the locker room just throwing balls, must have been for four to five hours. That's what I noticed first, what I first noticed, first really liked. Liked his tape, liked the way he gets the ball out quick. Liked the way he played against us the other night. Wanted to sign him, thinking hard about drafting him in the draft and then he was a priority free agent signing for us, but we weren't able to get it done. We got him now."
I do get the point he is making, but those comments read very much like Champ Kind's comments to Ron Burgundy about how much he misses him:
I'm a mess without you. I miss you so damn much! I miss being with you. I miss being *near* you. I miss your laugh! I miss your scent. I miss your musk... When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!
Makes me want to say "Take it easy, Jim. Why don't you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while."
But seriously, the team really likes Tolzien and it will be interesting to see how they work him into the practice rotation and how he competes with Colin Kaepernick behind Alex Smith. In the meantime, the fine folks at our Wisconsin Badgers blog, Bucky's 5th Quarter, were kind enough to provide us with a bit of a scouting report on the rookie QB. Thanks to John Veldhuis for putting this together.
If you asked me what the prototypical Wisconsin quarterback looked like, I would point you to Scott Tolzien. He was a great fit for the Badgers' pro-style offense, because he was a good game manager and made the throws when he needed to. He benefitted a lot from the Badgers' strong running game during his two years as the starter, because it allowed him to complete a lot of play-action passes when the opposing defense was cheating up to try and stop the run. He was a great system quarterback, but in this sense that actually helps him in the pros instead of hindering him. You don't have to worry about Tolzien moving under center in the NFL- that's practically all he did in college.
Tolzien has his flaws, however. He tends to lock on his intended receivers in the pocket, which left him vulnerable to interceptions if the Badgers were forced to go to the air. Also, I wouldn't call Tolzien a very mobile quarterback. Honestly this wasn't much of a problem for him at Wisconsin- he didn't need to scramble out of the pocket often because the line protected him well, but he's no Russell Wilson.
Overall, I think Tolzien can be a quality backup in the NFL. It probably helps that GeepChryst (brother of UW offensive coordinator and mad genius Paul Chryst) is on the coaching staff, because Paul knew how to use Tolzien's strengths. I'm sure Paul wouldn't mind giving his brother a little advice here and there. If Tolzien sticks with the 49ers, I think they'll be able to trust him in a game if the need arises.