Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien Playing for Roster Spots with the San Francisco 49ers

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When the San Francisco 49ers acquired Colt McCoy from the Cleveland Browns prior to the 2013 NFL draft, common logic suggested that he would compete with Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback spot behind Colin Kaepernick.

The belief was that both would make the team out of training camp, which would provide San Francisco with a solid insurance policy in case Kaepernick went down with injury.

This common logic has since taken a back seat.

San Francisco added a project quarterback in the form of B.J. Daniels from South Florida in the seventh round of April’s draft. At that time, it was concluded that he’d provide nothing more than training camp competition for McCoy and Tolzien.

That hasn’t turned out to be the case.

While both McCoy and Tolzien have struggled a great deal in San Francisco’s two preseason games, Daniels pretty much shocked everyone with his debut performance against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The rookie completed six-of-nine passes for 72 yards, including a late-game go-ahead score to Chuck Jacobs.

Meanwhile, McCoy possesses the second-lowest quarterback rating of the preseason (right ahead of Tim Tebow). He has completed less than half of his passes with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Tolzien’s performance has also left a lot to be desired.

Recognizing these issues at backup quarterback, general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh made the decision to sign quarterback Seneca Wallace this week. Wallace, a nine-year veteran, has had some success in the NFL. He has thrown 31 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions in 21 career starts. That being said, Wallace was released by the New Orleans Saints earlier in training camp and has lost 15 of his 21 career starts.

Is he just training camp fodder at this point?

That’s the larger question.

As it is, San Francisco plans on playing all five quarterbacks Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings. In reality, it will be hosting a four-man competition for the backup spot behind Kaepernick.

If McCoy and Tolzien continue to struggle, there is some thought that San Francisco will go with Daniels and Wallace as the two quarterbacks behind Kaepernick. Both seem to fit what San Francisco is attempting to do on the offensive side of the ball more than McCoy and Tolzien.

In addition, Wallace has a connection with new 49ers’ assistant Eric Mangini. The two were together with the Cleveland Browns back in 2010. Interestingly enough, McCoy was also part of that team.

For what it is worth Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area believes that McCoy is on the outside looking in when it comes to making the 53-man roster:

Colt McCoy’s athleticism is a plus, but he has struggled in the first two games. Scott Tolzien has practice squad eligibility, so the 49ers can keep him around. With another impressive exhibition game, Daniels will leave the 49ers no option but to keep him. The addition of Wallace indicates the 49ers do not feel secure with either of the veteran options.

While McCoy may be in the midst of his final opportunity to earn that roster spot, Tolzien does have practice squad eligibility (as Maiocco indicated). The question would then be, is it safe to put him through waivers, which would have to happen in order to place him in the practice squad?

One thing is for sure here. We won’t be seeing a lot of Kaepernick for the third consecutive preseason outing.

 

Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Friday. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report.