You know it’s the offseason when we’ve moved on to backup quarterback rankings! The San Francisco 49ers quarterback depth chart does not have a clear long-term solution, but for 2017, the depth chart is entirely clear. Brian Hoyer will start, Matt Barkley is his backup, and C.J. Beathard is going to be the third quarterback on the depth chart.
Hoyer is a solid quarterback with a limited ceiling but a fairly high floor. He played well in 2014 when Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator, and he looked solid last year with the Chicago Bears before he got hurt. If the 49ers were to lose him, things would not drop that much in moving to Matt Barkley. Well, not as much as other teams. Barkley is a capable backup option, and given Hoyer’s limited ceiling, there’s just not that huge a drop.
SI put together a ranking of backup quarterbacks, and they ranked the 49ers combination of Barkley and Beathard No. 18 in the league. The top five in the league are Jimmy Garoppolo (Patriots), Matt Moore (Dolphins), Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch (Broncos), Colt McCoy (Washington), and Deshaun Watson (Texans). The bottom five are Kellen Moore (Cowboys), Scott Tolzien (Colts), Sean Mannion (Rams), Jake Rudock/Brad Kaaya (Lions), and Ryan Griffin (Buccaneers).
The writer broke up the backups into various groups. He had the most talked about backups, veterans in plum jobs, rookies being brought along slowly for now, and “let’s just hope the starter remains healthy.” The 49ers group fit under rookies being brought along slowly for now. They were included alongside Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs in Pittsburgh.
Barkley and Jones are similar known quantities on very, very dissimilar teams, but being a known quantity should be enough to keep mid-rounders C.J. Beathard and Josh Dobbs off the field. Barkley’s 8:14 touchdown-to-interception ratio doesn’t quite do justice to the relatively good vibes he generated in Chicago one-score losses to the Titans, Lions and Packers. The Steelers have Jones under contract for the next two years, but Dobbs has a good chance to accelerate Jones’s departure and become the immediate successor to Ben Roethlisberger soon if Pittsburgh falls in love with his makeup the way draft analysts did.
The combination of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley makes sense in this first year of the new rebuilding process. The 49ers offense could take a nice step forward this year with Shanahan taking over and bringing in a lot of pieces he likes. The long-term answer to the quarterback position might be on the roster at this point, but it would only be C.J. Beathard out of this group. But for 2017 and the position the franchise is currently in, they are not exactly in the worst position.