Training camp is still a few weeks away for the 49ers, yet Colt McCoy already appears to have locked up the backup quarterback job.
After leading his team to the Super Bowl last season, Colin Kaepernick is of course the unquestioned No. 1. Yet the competition between McCoy, holdover Scott Tolzien (last year’s No. 3) and rookie B.J. Daniels for the No. 2 role is already over.
McCoy, who wears No. 2 on his jersey, will be Kaepernick’s backup.
“He has been in that role since he got here,” Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh told the San Francisco Chronicle recently. “He’s doing very well, picking up the system. And a guy that is really serious and focused on being good and doing a good job. He’s got a lot of things that motivate him to work hard. And he’s worked extra hard, too. And doing well.”
For the Niners – who needed someone with experience as backup after trading Alex Smith to Kansas City – McCoy seemed a perfect fit. He’ still young (he won’t turn 27 until Sept. 5), he’s been in the NFL three seasons since being taken by the Browns in the third round of the 2010 draft and he’s played 24 games as a pro, completing 58.3 percent of his throws. Even under duress in Cleveland, where the offensive line was shaky and he was consistently pressured, sacked and dealing with injuries, he threw more touchdown passes than interceptions (21 to 20).
Plus, his mobility should allow him to plug into the 49ers’ read-option scheme and pistol formation should Kaepernick be injured.
McCoy says the 49ers offense is different than the Browns’ but some of the similarities are allowing him to feel comfortable with it.
“There’s a little bit of carryover from systems I’ve been in, but unique as well,” he told Bay Area reporters this month. “We’ve got our own twists. Every day I try to approach it as a game – the reps I get, I really have to focus making the calls and the checks.”
McCoy says he and Kaepernick have worked well together, and he’s picking up a lot from Kaepernick, who took over the job from Smith in November of last year.
McCoy told reporters the 49ers run a very “game-plan specific” offense, meaning they can tailor their system to make it different for a particular opponent or game.
“We have the potential to do a lot of things,” said McCoy.
With McCoy in place at No. 2 going into the start of training camp – which will open the third week of July – that means Tolzien will be battling Daniels for the No. 3 quarterback job. The 49ers have liked Tolzien’s ability as a pocket passer since they picked him up after he was waived by the Chargers just before the 2011 season. Daniels, however, brings a multipurpose athleticism that has made him attractive to Harbaugh. Daniels can run (and play an important role on the scout team on weeks when the 49ers are set to play against a running quarterback) and has gotten work as a running back, receiver and punt returner.
But McCoy, unless an injury sets him back, is locked in at No. 2. During organized team activities (OTAs), Harbaugh consistently praised McCoy.
He likes what he sees and says McCoy has gotten better each day. General manager Trent Baalke says McCoy is a key addition.
“We are pleased to add another high-character player like Colt to our roster,” Baalke said after San Francisco acquired him in April. “He is a young, competitive player who we are looking forward to working with.”