The San Francisco 49ers are expecting to send out their starters for approximately a quarter on Friday, and that means we will get our first in-game look at quarterback Brian Hoyer.
The starting quarterback job is settled, with the 49ers making it clear that Hoyer is “the guy” when the season starts in a month. Hoyer, head coach Kyle Shanahan, and general manager John Lynch have all spoken about the value of having the position settled, and how it is potentially helping Hoyer’s confidence knowing that he doesn’t have someone specific looking over his shoulder.
The 49ers don’t have a clear long-term answer at quarterback, so I suppose in some ways that general idea will be looking over Hoyer’s shoulder as long as he is the 49ers starting quarterback. And yet, his experience as a UDFA, getting repeatedly cut, and generally having to fight for every thing he has gotten in the NFL seems to have left him with a certain quiet confidence.
Peter King was at 49ers camp over the weekend, and he had a chance to talk to Hoyer. In his MMQB column, King talked about how Hoyer seemed cooked after a 2015 playoff appearance, but Hoyer explained the importance of never getting too high or too low.
“My dad always used to tell me growing up, when it was a big deal to lose a baseball game, the sun is going to come up tomorrow. So that night after the loss to the Chiefs, the sun came up the next day. Then I ended up in Chicago. I think I played really well.
“There is a way to go on this roller coaster of the NFL and deal with the highs and deal with the lows and try to stay right in the middle. It's okay to be upset or hurt and then pick yourself back up and attack. What else are you going to do? As I got further and further away from that playoff game, I realized it was just an anomaly. I never had a game in my entire life that I played that bad. But it was just one day.”
The 49ers have a competition shaping up for the backup quarterback role, but Hoyer is settled in as the team’s starter. He has looked sharp in training camp, and seems to be developing a solid rapport with his receivers, particularly Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. He knows the 49ers offense as well as anybody thanks in part to his time with Shanahan in Cleveland.
None of this guarantees he will have a successful 2017, and of course, the bigger question remains if he will be able to stay healthy all season. But for now, there is at least a little bit of optimism about the short term status of the quarterback position. Friday won’t give us all the answers about the position, and we shouldn’t put too much into what the starters do in the first preseason game. But a positive performance would certainly lead to more good vibes!