New Phase of 49ers QB Competition

Monday's first day of structured conditioning program allows for more competition between Kaepernick, Johnson and Tolzien

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Colin Kaepernick (No. 7) is the incumbent backup to starting quarterback Alex Smith (No. 11) going into organized offseason workouts.

    The San Francisco 49ers move into a new phase of preparation for the 2012 NFL season with the start of the team’s official offseason conditioning program today.

    Players have been working out individually at the team’s facility in Santa Clara since the end of last season, but Monday kicks off a structured nine-week program.

    Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group reports that, according to the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, the nine weeks of the voluntary program will be held over a 10-week period. A maximum of four workouts per week – with Saturdays and Sundays off – are allowed.

    The program is broken into three phases.

    The first phase includes only strength and conditioning work for players, and lasts two weeks. On-field workouts are allowed, but no coaches can be present. The second phase, lasting three weeks, allows for coaches on the field, but no offense vs. defense drills and no helmets. The final four-week phase includes 10 days of organized team activities, known as OTAs, which permit coaches on the field. Players are allowed to wear helmets but no pads, but still there is no offense vs. defense drills or contact allowed. A mandatory minicamp makes up the final week of the program, which will be in June.

    The start of the offseason workouts also begins a new phase for the three quarterbacks on the roster battling for the No. 2 job behind starter Alex Smith and for a spot on the roster: last year’s backup Colin Kaepernick; Josh Johnson, the free agent and former Tampa Bay Buc who was signed in the offseason; and Scott Tolzien, who was signed by the 49ers last season after this release by the Chargers.

    Kaepernick is listed as No. 2 on the depth chart, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur, with Johnson at No. 3 and Tolzien No. 4.

    But the quarterbacks know their competition already has begun.

    “You’re out here to compete every day,” Kaepernick told Inman. “That’s what you’re here for. Whether it’s me, Josh or Alex, I’m here to compete, trying to get on that field any way I can. I’m real excited. Things have been going well.”

    Tolzien knows there is added competition with the addition of Johnson to the roster, but told Tafur he’s been assured by coach Jim Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke that he’ll be given every opportunity to make the team.

    “Their message is it’s an open competition,” Tolzien told Tafur. “That’s really all you can ask for is just an equal shot.”

    Johnson – who played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego – signed a two-year deal with the 49ers in March. After signing, Johnson said he was looking forward to the competition at his position, but also was looking forward to being part of a new organization.

    The reps in practice, and how the players stack up, will take care of itself, he said.

    “Even though everybody wants to play, the team is more important,” Johnson told Inman in March.