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49ers quarterbacks: Better, worse, or same in 2017?

A position by position look at the San Francisco 49ers’ roster, and whether the team is better, worse, or the same as the 2016 roster. Other positions: QB | RBWR | TEOT | OG | C | LB | CB | S

The San Francisco 49ers face a lot of questions surrounding their roster in 2017, with the new front office and coaching staff bringing numerous changes. It is going to take some time to figure out where this team stands. The team was incredibly active in free agency, and followed that with plenty of work in the 2017 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought we would take a look at each position, compare it to various points last year, and consider whether the unit is better, worse, or the same compared to last year. The table includes the current group of players, and then a list of players on the 90-man roster for the first preseason game, the players on the Week 1 53-man roster, and the players on the Week 17 53-man roster. The idea is to compare this year with last year across the board. The roster changes from August to December, so I’m including three separate markers just to provide an overall view of the position last year.

We’ll get started with the quarterback position.

Quarterback changes, 2016-to-2017

Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Current 2016 preseason 2016 - Week 1 2016 - Week 17
Brian Hoyer Blaine Gabbert Blaine Gabbert Colin Kaepernick
Matt Barkley Colin Kaepernick Colin Kaepernick Blaine Gabbert
C.J. Beathard Thad Lewis Christian Ponder Christian Ponder
Nick Mullens Jeff Driskel Thad Lewis (IR) Thad Lewis (IR)

The 49ers have overhauled the quarterback position in a big way. A year ago, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick were returning to the roster from the 2015 team. The 49ers then signed Thad Lewis, a favorite of Chip Kelly, and drafted Jeff Driskel. Lewis tore his ACL and was replaced by Christian Ponder. The 49ers then cut Driskel, only to see him claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals.

This year, three of the four 49ers quarterbacks were due to hit free agency, and Colin Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his renegotiated contract to become a free agent. The 49ers entered free agency with no quarterbacks, but quickly cleared that up. They signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in the first couple days of free agency. A month and a half later, they drafted Iowa’s C.J. Beathard in the third round of the NFL Draft, and then followed by signing Nick Mullens as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi.

Comparing last year’s quarterbacks to this year’s quarterbacks is an interesting exercise to say the least. There are arguments to be made (and I’m sure they will be made) that Colin Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Brian Hoyer. I also know that there are some who think Kaepernick is garbage and will argue he is worse than Hoyer. However, the real discussion to be had is who fits where, both in terms of the 49ers offense and in terms of where they are at in their rebuilding process.

Hoyer has had success with Kyle Shanahan, and did some good things for a stretch last season with the Chicago Bears. At the same time, he has struggled to stay healthy, and has lacked consistency. The 49ers are in the early stages of a rebuilding process, and they very well could view Kirk Cousins, one of the other free agents next year, or somebody in the 2018 draft class as their guy of the future. Hoyer represents a bridge to the future.

Matt Barkley is the clear-cut backup at this point. He could see playing time if Hoyer gets hurt, but every comment by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan has made it pretty clear that Hoyer is the starter. On the other hand, C.J. Beathard is here to be developed in 2017. He could surprise and surpass Matt Barkley on the depth chart sooner rather than later, but the expectation for now is that he will be a developmental prospect.

I think Colin Kaepernick is a more talented quarterback than any of this group. However, in terms of the rebuilding process and potentially landing a quarterback next year (or seeing Beathard surprise), I can see the 49ers being in a better situation for the time being than they were a year ago.

I’ve dropped in a poll to see what folks think. Better, worse, or the same?


Are the 49ers better, worse, or the same at QB in 2017 as compared to 2016?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    (2070 votes)
  • 17%
    (617 votes)
  • 22%
    (779 votes)
3466 votes total Vote Now