The San Francisco 49ers are sending coaches and scouts around the country for various Pro Days the next six weeks, and the most notable thus far happened today. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is in Evanston, Illinois today to check out the Northwestern Pro Day. Brad Biggs posted this information:
#49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at Northwestern pro day where Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo expected to perform— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 4, 2014
Initially, when I saw the first tweet, it was followed by people speculating that Harbaugh was checking out Jimmy Garoppolo. Eastern Illinois does not have a Pro Day, so this provides him a chance to work out. I figured it was possible, but it was also worth noting that Harbaugh attended MIssouri's Pro Day in 2011 to see Aldon Smith, and not necessarily Blaine Gabbert.
However, the latter tweet would seem to indicate a bit more interest in Garoppolo than I might have initially thought. Northwestern is not exactly bustling with prospects, although I'm sure we could be surprised. More importantly, the 49ers do need a backup quarterback to compete with McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The market for free agents has some options, but it's fairly slim pickings.
The 49ers are not going to be looking at guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel. However, the team could decide to make a move on Day 2 or early Day 3 to add a backup with some upside. Trevor Woods ranked Garoppolo his No. 6 quarterback before the Combine, and he is likely climbing for some folks.
The 49ers have some needs but adding a quarterback with upside covers two options. If Colin Kaepernick continues to improve and signs a contract extension, a young backup provides an option in case of injury, and also provides a potential trade chip down the road. On the other hand, if the 49ers decide they cannot get a deal done with Kap, they will have potentially already begun developing his successor. Ideally Kap re-signs, but the 49ers can't just assume he'll improve and they'll get a deal done. They have to consider all contingencies when it comes to contract questions marks.