The San Francisco 49ers are considering their long-term options at quarterback, but their roster additions primarily focused on the short term. C.J. Beathard will get opportunities to develop, but the additions of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley point to a team prepared to take some time figuring out the long term possibilities.
Recently, Jason La Canfora broke down 14 starting quarterbacks that could find themselves in a new location this time next year. It’s not quite a traditional “hot seat,” but that’s sort of the idea. He split the quarterbacks into three categories: scalding, lukewarm, and tepid. Alex Smith, Mike Glennon, and Brock Osweiler are among those on the scalding list. He included Kirk Cousins on the tepid list, not because he could lose his job, but his contract situation could see him departing next year.
49ers QB Brian Hoyer is on the lukewarm list. La Canfora had this to say:
I have a hard time seeing Kyle Shanahan holding off on drafting a quarterback high in the 2018 draft, but that doesn't essentially mean that rookie QB will start from the opening snap of the 2018 season. Shanahan has a lot of faith and trust in Hoyer and it could be he fills that two-year deal as a starter for most of it. If Hoyer stays healthy and puts up the kind of numbers he did with Shanahan in Cleveland (and if Kirk Cousins ends up signing an extension with Washington -- more on that below), then Hoyer might not be a one-year rental.
Kirk Cousins is the big wild card in this. There are reports of positive interactions between the team and Cousins’ agent, but no indication the numbers are moving closer. If Cousins hits the market, or is only given the transition tag, he could be a 49er this time next year.
But if Cousins re-signs or is franchised again, the 49ers have some decisions to make. They need to figure out what to make of C.J. Beathard. They need to figure out how heavy they want to go at the QB position in the 2018 NFL draft. And of course, they need to figure out what other free agency options are out there. The first two are not mutually exclusive. If the 49ers stick with Brian Hoyer into the second year of his contract, I would anticipate the team drafting a quarterback to develop behind C.J. Beathard, regardless of how good or bad Beathard is looking at that point.
I don’t see Hoyer on a “hot seat” so to speak, because I don’t think anybody has long-term expectations with him. Rather, his 2018 status could depend primarily on Kirk Cousins. If Cousins hits the market, I think he ends up in Santa Clara. If Cousins does not hit the market, I think Hoyer is the starting QB in 2018, and the 49ers likely draft another QB to compete for development with C.J. Beathard. There is also door No. 3 with another free agent, but I don’t see that happening.