The San Francisco 49ers could wind up keeping three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. But it might be wise to keep two — Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard — and open up an extra roster spot.
In all likelihood, the San Francisco 49ers will hit the 2017 regular season with three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster.
Hoyer makes enough sense to warrant little explanation. He was brought in as a free agent to immediately take over the reins as a starter. Hoyer knows head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense and even had some success with it during both men’s days with the Clevleand Browns back in 2014.
San Francisco 49ers
But the remaining two, Beathard and Barkley, create a fairly unique discussion.
When Barkley was signed earlier this offseason, the Niners had no clue how their plans in the 2017 NFL Draft would go. Yes, they wanted to target a quarterback — most teams do — but couldn’t accurately predict who would wind up being signed.
Even after the Niners took Beathard in Round 3, there were plenty of doubts surrounding his ability to have success at the NFL level.
After two weeks of preseason action, though, the 49ers might be in good enough shape to keep just two QBs on their 53-man roster.
Matt Barkley not Showing Enough
Granted, preseason action isn’t a perfect indicator of any player’s impact during the regular season. Most of this is gained through practice, although Barkley hasn’t exactly been a training camp standout.
But looking at the preseason numbers, Barkley isn’t a sure bet either.
In Week 1 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, Barkley was 10-of-17 for 168 yards and a passer rating of 92.3.
Not bad, but certainly not enough to suggest his roster spot is safe.
Yet against the Denver Broncos’ third-string unit in Week 2 of the preseason, Barkley was a lowly 1-of-2 for just 10 yards and a passer rating of 64.6.
These numbers aren’t enough to truly judge him. But Barkley should have performed better against the fringes of the Broncos roster.
C.J. Beathard on the Ascent
Meanwhile, Beathard has risen from the No. 3 quarterback to the No. 2 spot. He did, after all, come into immediate relief of Hoyer in game two of the preseason, working with the second-team unit.
And Beathard didn’t disappoint, as shown by NBC Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco:
Those are pretty impressive numbers against a solid-enough Broncos defense. The week before, Beathard finished the night, albeit against Kansas City’s third-string unit, with 110 passing yards and two touchdowns for a 116.7 passer rating.
Comparing the two, Beathard’s preseason passer rating is 130.6. Barkley’s is 89.4.
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Benefits of Keeping Two Quarterbacks Only
The 49ers may not want to take this gamble, especially knowing Hoyer’s injury history, but it would be beneficial for San Francisco to keep just two quarterbacks this season on its 53-man roster.
Beathard has seemingly beat out Barkley for the No. 2 spot, at least for now. And the Niners could use some added talent elsewhere with that extra roster spot.
Chief among the candidates to stick around is wide receiver and kick returner Victor Bolden Jr.
Bolden had a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Saturday, and he immediately provides a much-needed spark for San Francisco’s special teams.
Yet he’s on the fringes of the roster, as the Niners wide receiver corps is pretty deep already. But if the 49ers want to keep a player like Bolden around, they’d be forced to make a cut elsewhere.
Again, it probably doesn’t go this route. Yet it’s worth evaluating and considering as a serious possibility.