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49ers free agents 2015: Predictions for Josh Johnson

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The San Francisco 49ers have 15 unrestricted free agents this season. We're taking a look and predicting what will happen with each of them. Today is quarterback Josh Johnson.

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Jim Harbaugh was a big fan of Josh Johnson from his days coaching the quarterback at San Diego. He fits the bill of a Harbaugh quarterback, and it wasn't surprising in the least to see the team go out and sign him in 2012. Johnson's stay with the team was short, however, and he wound up bouncing between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals before the 49ers were able to bring him back again.

Johnson was then used this past season as the third quarterback and also a means for the team to essentially keep a 54th roster spot, constantly releasing and re-signing him as they needed. But at the end of the day, he was the guy behind Blaine Gabbert, who was the guy behind Colin Kaepernick.

I'm certain that I'm not the only person who felt more comfortable with the idea of Johnson taking over for an injured Kaepernick than Gabbert, either. True, there's legitimately not a ton to base that on, but I've always regarded Johnson as an accurate quarterback, sans his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, while Gabbert just ... well, he's Gabbert.

Anyway, Johnson is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year and I suppose we better look at whether or not the 49ers will bring him back. Obviously, Johnson was Harbaugh's man, but is he a guy that is well-regarded by the rest of the coaching staff?

I know that Johnson has one thing going for him: his game is very similar to Kaepernick's. Johnson is more than capable of scrambling or running the read option, and might have a bit better accuracy in his short game. He lacks Kaepernick's arm strength, though, and is obviously a backup for a reason. He didn't throw a regular season pass last year, but he did out-perform Gabbert in the preseason, for whatever that's worth.

Why he will return

He's a good backup for Kaepernick in that the coaching staff won't have to change a whole lot next season. Geep Chryst, the new offensive coordinator, is already used to working with him. On Johnson's end, his opportunities in the league have to be running out, and a couple more seasons as the backup in San Francisco might be the most attractive option for him. He won't cost much, either.

Why he will depart

Johnson hasn't done much over the years, which is good for the quarterbacks he's backing up, but bad as far as determining whether or not he's a good backup is concerned. There's also the fact that he was certainly brought in by Harbaugh and Harbaugh is no longer in San Francisco. I doubt he'll get a super-attractive offer from another team that takes him elsewhere so really, I think his future depends solely on whether or not the 49ers re-sign him.

Odds of returning

I imagine the 49ers want to sign a veteran in free agency, and if you couple that with drafting a developmental guy, then I don't see much room for Johnson. But he's a cheap, possibly effective option so I'll give it some chance of working out. Let's go with a 25 percent chance of returning.