Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers were fairly quiet in free agency this season. They signed offensive guard Zane Beadles, and quarterback Thad Lewis. There were questions among fans about the quarterback position, but the 49ers seemed content to maintain the status quo to some degree. They signed Lewis, and drafted Jeff Driskel in the sixth round.
Lewis entered the NFL as a 2010 undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He spent most of that first season on the Rams practice squad. He was waived in September 2011, and claimed by the Cleveland Browns. He spent 2011 and 2012 with the Browns, appearing in and starting one game in 2012. He was waived in the 2013 offseason (May 28), and was claimed by the Detroit Lions. He was subsequently traded to the Buffalo Bills in August. In 2013, he appeared in six games (five starts) for the Bills, throwing for 1,092 yards and four touchdowns and a passer rating of 81.0.
The Bills released him in August 2014 and he spent time with the Houston Texans before re-signing with the Browns in March 2015. He was released from the Browns in September, and signed with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 21. He spent the remainder of the season with the Eagles, but was never active.
The 49ers entered the offseason with Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, and Dylan Thompson on their roster. Considering the chatter about Kap, the team was going to need to add at least one veteran just in case Kap was traded. And so, Trent Baalke brought in someone with whom head coach Chip Kelly was familiar.
Lewis is 6'0, which makes him the shortest of the four quarterbacks. 49ers.com lists him at 6'2, but he measured in at 6'0 and 4/10 at the 2010 NFL Combine. Maybe he's grown a little, but I'm skeptical on that one. The other three quarterbacks are all 6'4, without any PR bump.
Here are a couple old scouting reports from the 2010 pre-draft process. They agree that reading defenses is a strength. It sounds like consistent accuracy has been an issue.
He signed a one-year contract this offseason, worth $760,000. His cap figure is $600,000 due to the veteran minimum salary benefit.
Why he might improve
He signed with the Eagles last September, and had the season to learn Chip Kelly's offense. He has a head start on Kelly's offense compared to Kap, Gabbert, and Driskel. That doesn't help if you're not sufficiently talented to make something of it, but it will help. I would be surprised if he made the roster over Driskel, but there's a lot of offseason left for the 49ers to figure out what they have with Driskel.
Why he might regress
He's a journeyman quarterback, so I don't think anybody is expecting him to suddenly bust out. I don't think it's regress, so much as just not show he's anything more than a journeyman option.
Odds of making the roster
They are not slim, but they are not particularly great. Barring a surprise, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are both making the 49ers roster. That would seemingly mean Lewis is competing with Driskel for a roster spot. A sixth round pick is not guaranteed a roster spot, but maybe Kelly decides Lewis needs to stick around, and tries to convince Trent Baalke accordingly. I think Driskel gets the roster spot, but we'll see what early September brings.