The big NFL news today saw the Jacksonville Jaguars cut quarterback David Garrard. The move surprised many folks given Garrard's fairly solid numbers in recent seasons. In 2010 his passing yards went down and his interceptions went up, but he also had career highs in touchdowns and completion percentage.
Naturally Garrard's release has opened discussion about whether the 49ers should make a run at the free agent quarterback. He was due a large salary in 2011 but as a veteran his release does not subject him to the waiver wire. Instead he is now a free agent for any team to sign. We've seen some discussion in the Garrard released Fanshot and Tim Kawakami was quick to point to him as a guy who could provide some practice competition for Alex Smith.
The 49ers do lack a legitimate backup to Smith at this point. The team can bring in a guy like Josh McCown from his coaching job, but isn't there more value in having a guy compete in practice week in and week out? If the team is looking to compete for the NFC West division title (not exactly the Mount Everest of challenges), having a viable backup makes all the sense in the world. Colin Kaepernick has not shown himself to be a viable backup at this point and Scott Tolzien is only just now learning the playbook.
This is not to say David Garrard is the answer at the backup QB position. I haven't paid close attention to the Jaguars QB position (not high on my fantasy radar!), but it sounds like Garrard struggled quite a bit this preseason and may very well have legitimately lost his starting job to Luke McCown:
Flat out, David Garrard was terrible in the preseason and throughout training camp. It's no surprise either that Luke McCown will be the opening day starter. McCown had consistently been the best Jaguars quarterback in training camp and in the preseason. Head coach Jack Del Rio often praised McCown for his play and general manager Gene Smith praised him unsolicited often.
Before basing my judgments on a fellow SB Nation blog, the comments would seem to indicate an interesting divide in the fan base over Garrard. We even have a few "hater" comments mixed in. It's like old home week at Big Cat Country!