The 49ers didn’t necessarily keep the best player in the preseason as their third quarterback.
They kept the one that could help them the most in the regular season.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee points out that the disparity in preseason stats doesn’t explain why the 49ers kept Scott Tolzien over Josh Johnson as their third behind Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
Tolzien has taken his role as the scout team QB in practice as his niche, knowing the 15.6 passer rating in the preseason finale (while Johnson threw for two touchdowns) wasn’t the reason.
“The week’s short. I mean, it goes fast,” Tolzien said. “And (Smith) doesn’t have time to go through every last bit of film. It’s not possible. So anything I can do to complement that is for the better of the team.”
The 49ers trust him as an extra set of eyes, and he’s good enough to simulate Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and so on in practice.
“Scott – I can definitely ask him to try to keep an eye on things and watch specifics that week,” Smith said.
It’s an unusual existence, nearly an admission they don’t have any interest in him playing a down. And with 13 teams electing to keep just two quarterbacks, keeping a stable pony is a luxury some teams aren’t interested in.
But Tolzien’s a gym rat, who actually tried to occupy the 49ers facility for a few weeks when they signed him. He was spending late nights there studying film, so he slept in a recliner, showered in the locker room and ate in the team cafeteria until coaches figured out what he was doing.
“I was here late nights,”Tolzein said. “So I figured, why not just stay here?”
It helped keep him there, even above more talented players, so why not?