When the 49ers announced the signing of Josh Johnson, one of the initial questions here and on Twitter was what this meant for the other quarterbacks. Was Johnson going to directly compete with Alex Smith for the number one role? Was he battling Colin Kaepernick for the backup job? WHAT THE HECK WAS GOING ON?!?!
The reality of the situation is actually quite simple. In his conference call earlier today, Johnson said he was simply assured he would get sufficient practice reps to prove his stuff. There was no discussion about what specific role he was competing for, and he seemed perfectly fine with that.
Given that Alex Smith would seem locked into the starting job (even with this competition), Johnson appears to simply be looking to improve himself as a quarterback and show progress on the field. One could make the argument that Johnson owes his pro career to Coach Harbaugh. He was an undersized quarterback coming out of Oakland Tech (same school as Marshawn Lynch) and Harbaugh helped get him into a position where he was a fifth round pick of the Bucs in 2008. It should not be surprising that he sounds so excited to come to the Bay Area.
Reasonable minds will disagree as to the value of Josh Johnson and Colin Kaepernick, but given how the 49ers have looked in recent years, you could make the argument that this is the deepest their QB position has been in regards to general talent in much of the last decade. I actually think you could make a reasonable argument that the Jeff Garcia/Tim Rattay duo wasn't too shabby, but in terms of upside, I think this current trio (and even mix in Scott Tolzien if you want) brings some really interesting possibilities to the table.
I realize those comments might represent a fair amount of optimism, but having some talent coming off the bench is kinda nice. Johnson has not matched his college abilities thus far, but getting him back with Coach Harbaugh could be the tonic that gets him moving in the right direction. He could end up doing nothing, but maybe Coach Harbaugh has the magic touch.