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Josh Johnson joins McLeod Bethel-Thompson in second tour with Jim Harbaugh

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The 49ers signed quarterback Josh Johnson for the second time in three seasons. We take a look at Jim Harbaugh's constant fiddling with the end of the quarterback depth chart.

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers announced they had signed quarterback Josh Johnson, and released defensive tackle Christian Tupou. Johnson joins a quarterback depth chart that includes Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, McLeod Bethel-Thompson and rookie Kory Faulkner.

This marks Johnson's second time with the 49ers since Jim Harbaugh took over. The team initially signed him during 2012 free agency, and subsequently released him in August during final roster cuts. I actually remember the first time the 49ers signed Johnson. I was at a friend's place for dinner, and when the news came down, I felt it was important enough to step away and write something up. This time around, I was out again with friends, but this time I was not going to step away. I forwarded the info along to James, and honestly was not super concerned if it was delayed getting posted. Sorry, JJ.

The return of Johnson marks the 15th quarterback acquired via signing, trade, waiver claim, or draft. That group of 15 consists of 13 quarterbacks, with JJ and McBLT making their way through twice. Eric Branch did a great job breaking down the acquisition and departure information for each quarterback, but here is a rundown of the quarterbacks:

Alex Smith
Colin Kaepernick
Jeremiah Masoli
McLeod Bethel-Thompson
Josh McCown
Scott Tolzien
Josh Johnson
Colt McCoy
B.J. Daniels
Seneca Wallace
John Skelton
McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Part 2)
Blaine Gabbert
Kory Faulkner
Josh Johnson (Part 2)

The most important thing to note is that the 49ers have had two starters during this run of quarterbacks: Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. The second most important thing to note is that once the season got going, the 49ers had a fairly clear-cut number two: Colin Kaepernick (2011), Kap/Alex Smith (2012), Colt McCoy (2013).

So basically, the last three years has featured a huge round-robin of third, fourth and fifth string quarterbacks. It really is not all that big a deal, but it is still slightly entertaining to see Jim Harbaugh make his way through countless project quarterbacks. Does he figure he can do some things with them, and then when camp starts he realizes he just doesn't have the time? Does he hope one will just sort of emerge? If that's the case, any idea why Johnson and McBLT are back?

I would bet good money that this is not the last of the quarterback maneuvering between now and final roster cuts. I'd imagine one of these guys gets released before final roster cuts get here, but it's also entirely possible we see Jim Harbaugh find another third string quarterback he likes. It's becoming a bit of a never-ending cycle.