The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of quarterback questions, and Christian Ponder added a wrinkle this preseason. The 49ers signed Ponder after Thad Lewis tore his ACL in the first preseason game. The injury left the team with Blaine Gabbert and Jeff Driskel, and then a Colin Kaepernick dealing with fatigue in his throwing arm. Ponder had been busy painting his house and just about ready for retirement when the phone rang.
Ponder got in on the action in his first preseason game, using a handful of plays, and even learning the touchdown throwing play on the sideline during the game. He finished that first game 7-of-8 for 86 yards and a passing touchdown, while rushing twice for 21 yards and a touchdown.
A week later, he struggled in the 49ers own struggles, finishing the game 1-of-3 for 11 yards and an interception. He bounced back in a big way against the San Diego Chargers, scrambling for two touchdowns to lead the fourth quarter comeback. He was also 8-of-14 for 101 passing yards.
He had two strong preseason performances, but the common thread was the timing. He was the 49ers last quarterback on the field, coming on third in Week 2, and then fourth in Weeks 3 and 4. He executed well in two of the games, so he gets credit for that. But it was against third string players, so the context subtracts a little from it.
Naturally, some folks have gotten at least a little bit excited about Ponder, and what he brings to the team. I’ve had people tweeting at me if it’s enough to handle the backup role. Others have suggested trading him for a pick. On that latter one, my guess is the 49ers could trade Christian Ponder and a seventh round pick for somebody else’s seventh round pick. Meaning, I don’t see someone willing to give up a pick for fourth quarter performances from Ponder. I could be proven wrong in the next 24 hours, but I’m fairly comfortable with that assessment.
The big question might be whether or not the 49ers will carry a third quarterback. Colin Kaepernick was not great on Thursday, but showed enough that it would seem to be questionable for them to release him at this point. Assuming Gabbert and Kaepernick make the roster, what’s next? I have a feeling they will release Driskel and try and slip him to the practice squad, but it depends on if they are comfortable exposing him to waivers. If the 49ers cut Ponder, I could very well see him signing with a Dallas or Minnesota, for at least a few weeks.
So, two questions: 1) How would you handle the situation? 2) How do you actually see it playing out, regardless of what you want to see happen.