The San Francisco 49ers made a second roster move on Tuesday, following their signing of running back Alfonso Smith. The NFL transaction report indicates the 49ers successfully claimed offensive tackle Michael Philipp from the Miami Dolphins. To make room for Philipp, the 49ers waived quarterback Kory Faulkner.
Philipp was a 4-year starter at left tackle for Oregon State, and went undrafted in this year's NFL Draft. According to DraftInsider, Philipp projects as a guard in the NFL. They like his movement, but feel he needs to "improve his playing balance and learn to finish blocks." The 49ers waived/injured Fou Fonoti earlier Tuesday, so this makes sense as a training camp depth move. Philipp could slot in to compete for a potential practice squad spot.
The decision to waive Faulkner is not a stunning move given his UDFA status, but it is still a little surprising. When the 49ers signed Faulkner, the young quarterback discussed how he recognized he was signing as a developmental prospect. As such, it is not surprising he would want to sign with a team like the 49ers, given their offensive coaching staff. For now though, he is back at square one, looking for a team.
Faulkner was not getting many reps in practice, so it makes some sense for the 49ers to focus in on a smaller number of quarterbacks. They know Colin Kaepernick is their starter for the foreseeable future, and I have to think Blaine Gabbert remains a heavy favorite to secure the backup role. I would love to see the 49ers find a longer-term developmental prospect, but that is unlikely to happen for now. Gabbert has upside, but he also only has one year left on his contract. I'd love to see him extended at a modest price if he looks good, but if he has a solid preseason, it might be enough to convince a team to give him a shot at a starting role in 2015.