The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2017 season and have begun their work to prepare for 2018 free agency and the draft. We’ll be breaking down plenty of what that means, but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look back at the season that was for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo capture our imagination, but the 49ers rebuilding process was extensive last year. We are going to take a look at every notable addition and provide a forum for grading how that signing, trade, or draft pick worked out.
Most of the acquisitions we are discussing in this series of articles are players that finished the season on the 49ers roster, either the 53-man roster, injured reserve, or the practice squad. Brian Hoyer is an exception, but given how the past calendar year went, I felt it was still worth including him in this process.
The 49ers signed Hoyer last March in their first wave of free agency signings. Injuries have been an issue with him, but he had some success with the Chicago Bears, and prior to that with the Cleveland Browns when Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator. He looked like a solid bridge quarterback as the 49ers add Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard, but did not get any more aggressive at the position. This left many of us thinking the 49ers would either try and sign Kirk Cousins in 2018, or spend a high draft pick on the much celebrated upcoming class of quarterbacks.
Hoyer claimed the starting job right out of the gate, and as one would expect, had his share of ups and downs. He had happy feet and balls sailed on him at times, but he also saw his receivers dropping passes at a pretty significant rate. Combine his own inconsistency with that of his receivers, and it was a recipe for struggles. We saw some strong moments, like his big performance against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football. But then we saw performances like those against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in which even a moderately better quarterback would have won both games.
My expectations were probably a little too high for Hoyer. I saw his solid work in Cleveland and Chicago, and figured he could build on that with a clear starting role. Instead, it seems like we saw about the highest level of his ceiling. He’s a very capable backup quarterback, but if you are expecting him to be your 16-game starter, well, it’s not going to end well.
Things took a wildly unexpected turn when the 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots the night before Halloween. The 49ers were going to trade Hoyer in that deal so the Patriots would have a backup quarterback, but the comp pick formula resulted in the 49ers instead releasing him so the Patriots could then sign him as a free agent.
The 49ers originally signed Hoyer to a two-year, $12 million contract, with incentives that could have brought it up to $18 million. The contract included a $4 million signing bonus, and he was fully guaranteed his 2017 base salary of $2,950,000, and $2,900,000 of his 2018 base salary. The 49ers are on the hook for that plus the prorated $2 million in 2018 signing bonus money.
Given the 49ers cap space, the dead money really doesn’t make much of a difference. The 49ers might just have their quarterback of the next five to ten years, so it’s easy to look past this signing. The most notable negative is that he really wasn’t particularly good as the starter. The most notable positive is that he likely was a solid mentor for C.J. Beathard. If in Beathard the 49ers have a solid backup for the next few years, maybe Hoyer gets a little credit for handling things well after he was benched.
But all things considered, where exactly would you grade it for the short time of it? If you can’t see the poll below, click here.
How do you grade the Brian Hoyer signing?
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