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In Cleveland, quarterback Colt McCoy often was running for his life. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
In Cleveland, Colt McCoy was pounded. In San Francisco, he has a chance to thrive.
McCoy, acquired by the 49ers in a trade with the Browns Monday, was thrown into the fire in Cleveland after being a third-round pick out of Texas in 2010. Playing for a franchise mired in mediocrity, McCoy made 21 starts and had a record of 6-15.
The young quarterback -- who’d been a big winner during his time for the Longhorns --didn’t have a strong arm, didn’t have much experience and didn’t have much of a supporting cast.
In eight appearances in 2010, he completed 135 of 222 throws for 1,576 yards, but threw nine interceptions against six TD passes; in 13 games in 2011, he completed 265 of 463 throws for 2,733 yards and 14 TDs, with 11 picks but was under constant pressure and fumbled five times.
But his tenure as Browns starter came to an abrupt end in a 2011 game against the Steelers.
As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer put it: “With no running game, an injured right tackle and one of the least talented receiving corps in the league, McCoy had a 4-9 record as a starter before suffering a season-ending concussion in Pittsburgh Dec. 8 on a violent smash to the head by James Harrison. The Browns put McCoy back in the game, and the following day his father, Brad, criticized the team for doing so, which drew the ire of (GM Mike) Holmgren. McCoy, 26, never started another game for the Browns.”
Last season, McCoy lost his starting job to rookie Brandon Weeden. He did appear in three games, throwing just four passes, but in one game was sacked four times.
According to the Plain Dealer’s Tom Reed, many in Cleveland believe McCoy never really had a chance to succeed with the Browns. Everything was stacked against him, including his team – which spent a first-round pick on Weeden.
Now, Reed wrote, McCoy has a chance to go to San Francisco to compete for a backup job to Colin Kaepernick, get better under head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman and feel what it’s like to be with a winning organization.
While McCoy isn’t big (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) or a big-armed deep passing threat, he’s considered a smart, accurate and mobile passer who might thrive in the San Francisco system the way Alex Smith did before losing his job to Kaepernick.
McCoy will compete with Scott Tolzien for the No. 2 job.
For the 49ers, it’s a low-risk, high-reward move. San Francisco now brings in a 26-year-old with starting experience and just a $1.5 million salary for 2013 in return for a fifth-round pick (No. 164 overall) and a seventh-round choice (No. 227). The Niners also get the Browns’ sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall).
Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, in comparing McCoy to Tolzien, gives the size edge to Tolzien (who is 6-foot-3) but the mobility edge to McCoy, who rushed for 1,589 yards and 20 TDs at Texas. Neither has a strong arm, wrote Barrows, and each is considered more of a “game manager.”
At Texas, McCoy won 45 games, more than any QB in NCAA history.
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar believes McCoy’s trade to San Francisco gives him a fresh start.
“Yeah, it doesn’t look like he’ll play much out there, but Colin Kaepernick runs quite a bit and will start taking hits now that everybody has all offseason to study this read-option (offense),” Kosar told a Cleveland radio station, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “For Colt McCoy to be out there on that loaded, championship-caliber team … this could give him his best chance for success.”