Present for Wednesday’s night perfect game from San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain (and please don’t accuse 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh of lying about that), Harbaugh almost saw another type of perfect game the last time the NFL’s Giants came to town.
Harbaugh’s starting pitcher, quarterback Alex Smith, nearly went an entire game without completing a pass to a wide receiver.
So with Smith’s level of play at a point where the 49ers had no choice but to “evaluate” the older brother of the guy who beat the Niners for a berth in the Super Bowl, the identity of the backup quarterback becomes very important — even though Harbaugh still says Smith is the unquestioned starter.
But we won’t know who the backup is going to be, for a while.
“All three of those guys are going to play a long time in this league, in our opinion,” Harbaugh said, according to Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News. ”But the competition for No. 2 and No. 3 will be there when we get to training camp. That will unfold with the practices and the preseason games. That will be very exciting.”
Unless the 49ers plan to carry four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, one of the guys who’ll be playing “a long time in this league” will be playing for someone else in 2012. Tolzein would seem to be the odd man out, especially since the team invested a high second-round pick in Kaepernick last season and Johnson played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego.
Kaepernick has had accuracy issues this offseason. But Harbaugh said Kaepernick had “a near perfect day” on Thursday.
Though I’m not sufficiently diabolical to assume Harbaugh isn’t telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, “near perfect” is a phrase that no 49ers quarterback since Joe Montana and Steve Young has earned. And it seems like an especially high bar to apply on the day after Harbaugh witnessed true perfection.