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49ers backup quarterback situation: What happens after Alex Smith?

Amidst all the chatter about Alex Smith and his eventual departure, there has not been much talk about who will replace him as the team's backup. Will it be Scott Tolzien, or some unknown entity?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We have spent, and will continue to spend plenty of time talking about Alex Smith and what he may or may not net in a trade. I suppose he could end up sticking around for another year, but odds seem pretty high that he will be in another uniform in 2013.

For the moment, I'd like to move past the will/he won't side of this discussion, and look a little further into what this would in turn mean for the 49ers quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback of the present and the future, but generally speaking, it's nice to have a decent backup. The Colts did fine with just Peyton Manning for over a decade, but plenty of other teams have needed a solid backup in place when injury strikes.

If Alex Smith gets dealt or released, the 49ers will be down to Scott Tolzien as their backup quarterback. It is entirely possible the 49ers are plenty of comfortable with Tolzien as their backup. His preseason and practice work might very well have sold the 49ers on him as their backup.

If they are not entirely satisfied with his progress, that opens the door for some decisions. Although the starting QB market is rather barren, there are a host of options that could make for solid clipboard holders. The folks at Pro Football Focus listed backup QB as one of the 49ers top three needs, and suggested Jason Campbell as a potential backup. They also mentioned Josh Johnson, who signed with the Browns late this past season after losing out on the No. 3 job to Scott Tolzien.

Here is a rundown of free agent quarterbacks that could get a call from Harbaalke sometime this offseason:

Brian Hoyer - ARI
Luke McCown - ATL
Joe Flacco - BAL
Tarvaris Jackson - BUF
Tyler Thigpen - BUF
Derek Anderson - CAR
Jason Campbell - CHI
Josh McCown - CHI
Bruce Gradkowski - CIN
Josh Johnson - CLE
Drew Stanton - IND
Jordan Palmer - JAC
Brady Quinn - KC
Pat Devlin - MIA - (Ex)
Matt Moore - MIA
Chase Daniel - NO
David Carr - NYG
Matt Leinart - OAK
Charlie Batch - PIT
Byron Leftwich - PIT
Kellen Clemens - STL
Rex Grossman - WAS
Vince Young - FA
Sage Rosenfels - FA
Seneca Wallace - FA
Donovan McNabb - FA
A.J. Feeley - FA
Troy Smith - FA
Chris Redman - FA
John Beck - FA
Stephen McGee - FA
J.P. Losman - FA

The team could also look to the Draft and simply try and develop a solid backup. If the player emerges with some strong performances in the preseason, maybe the 49ers then turn around and deal him. They will not spend a high pick on a quarterback, but they could decide to roll the dice, particularly if a young QB slides to them.

1. Geno Smith
2. Mike Glennon
3. Matt Barkley
4. Tyler Wilson
5. Tyler Bray
6. Landry Jones
7. Ryan Nassib
8. EJ Manuel
9. Zac Dysert
10. Sean Renfree
11. Jordan Rodgers
12. Matt Scott

The question also is what kind of quarterback they want as the backup. Jim Harbaugh would say he wants the guy who puts the team in the best position to win. Do they look for a more traditional drop-back passer, or do they look for somebody in similar form to Kaepernick? Or does it matter as long it is just somebody competent?

How do you handle the backup QB position if Alex Smith is not on the roster this fall?