49ers

49ers sign Tom Savage to be No. 3 QB; ex-Texan started seven games in 2017

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49ers sign Tom Savage to be No. 3 QB; ex-Texan started seven games in 2017

The 49ers on Tuesday signed veteran quarterback Tom Savage to be the team’s No. 3 quarterback behind starter C.J. Beathard and backup Nick Mullens.

The 49ers waived tight end Cole Wick to make room for Savage on the 53-man roster. They also released offensive lineman Zach Golditch from the practice squad.

Savage, 28, appeared in 13 games with nine starts over four seasons with the Houston Texans. He started seven games last season, completing 56.1 percent of his passes for 1,412 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. He was a fourth-round pick of the Texans in 2014.

"He’s got a strong arm. He’s a very tough player," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He hangs in that pocket and plays the position well. I was a fan of his coming out of college. He’s gotten to play in a number of NFL games, so he’s been battle tested."

Savage and Matt Simms impressed the 49ers during a workout two days after Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 3. But the 49ers opted to sign Savage because of his experience of playing last season.

The other quarterbacks who tried out were Landry Jones, E.J. Manuel, Kellen Clemens, T.J. Yates and Kyle Allen. 

"He was in a tough situation in Houston that didn’t work out for him," Shanahan said of Savage. "But I got to study him this preseason when he was in New Orleans, and they have some similarities in their offense as ours."

Savage went to camp with the New Orleans Saints this summer but was cut Sept. 1. Shanahan said Savage received praise from Saints coach Sean Payton.

Savage will wear No. 14 for the 49ers.

49ers GM John Lynch won't label Solomon Thomas a bust, still a 'big believer'

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49ers GM John Lynch won't label Solomon Thomas a bust, still a 'big believer'

The 49ers have received little return on the investment of their 2017 No. 3 overall draft pick.

General manager John Lynch acknowledges defensive lineman Solomon Thomas has not produced to the level expected of a player selected so early in the draft. But Lynch said he has not given up on Thomas, who ranks 17th on the team in tackles and has one sack as a part-time player through 10 games.

“A lot of people use the word ‘bust’ or whatever,” Lynch said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “He’s not that. He’s a good football player for us.

“I think a lot of people struggle when you have the No. 3 pick. ‘Why isn’t he in there more?’ And that’s something we have to answer. But you have to earn those opportunities. That’s something Kyle (Shanahan) has always been clear on. Solly needs to continue to earn those. And we need to continue to put him in position to thrive.”

Thomas appeared in 14 games with 12 starts as a rookie. With 41 tackles and three sacks, Thomas showed signs he could take his game to a higher level. But Thomas’ production has regressed in his second season.

Thomas, 23, faced tragedy in the offseason when his older sister, Ella, died from suicide on January 23. Thomas has used his platform as an NFL player to bring awareness to mental health issues. It is only reasonable to assume his real-life anguish has impacted his on-field production.

[RELATED: Whitner: Thomas not a fit]

“It’s been tough on Solomon,” Lynch said. “I can’t even imagine. I often try to put myself in his position, and I know the struggle that he’s going through. Solomon is very aware that the struggle is real, that it’s something he deals with every day.

“But, also, he needs to find a way to come and be the best he can be at his job.”

Thomas has two years remaining on his rookie contract after this season, and Lynch said he expects the former Stanford star to come back from the bye week and make an impact as the 49ers close out the season.

“I’m still a big believer in Solomon Thomas,” Lynch said. “A lot of people say, ‘Why?’ You go back and study the history of defensive linemen in this league. A lot of them don’t figure it out in Year 1. They don’t figure it out in Year 2.”

Lynch added, “In this second half of this Year 2 for him, he’s got to really start being the player we all know he can be. Some of that is opportunity, and putting him in situations where we think he can thrive. And I think we’ll see that in the second half of this year.”

How Nick Mullens changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

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How Nick Mullens changed GM John Lynch's thinking about 49ers' QB situation

When the 49ers signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a lucrative, long-term extension in the offseason, it was presumed the team’s top two quarterbacks were set through the 2020 season.

Now, C.J. Beathard’s long-term spot as the 49ers’ backup looks tenuous. Nick Mullens will make his third consecutive start on Sunday when the club returns from the bye week to play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Here’s how my thinking’s changed: I think we have three now,” Lynch said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

Garoppolo’s season came to an abrupt end in Week 3 when he sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 49ers expect Garoppolo to come back strong in 2019 after continuing to learn from coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello while rehabbing his knee.

“I think we have one special guy in Jimmy Garoppolo,” Lynch said. “I have all the belief in the world in him, as does Kyle. We’re real proud of the way he’s using this as an opportunity, not only to get healthy, which takes a ton of time with an ACL, but he’s also using this as an opportunity to grow his game in the film room.

“We believe, as we did when we committed to him long term, that he’s going to be the guy for years to come at that position.”

Beathard took over for Garoppolo and started the next five games, all 49ers losses. After averaging 297.3 yards passing in his first three starts, Beathard struggled in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. He was sacked 11 times in those two games.

“I think at some point when you’re struggling, there’s a little regression,” Lynch said. “I think C.J. was going through that. Nick came in and gave us a lift. But I think that was also good for C.J. to get to back off, kind of take things in and really, frankly, learn some things from Nick -- the way he’s getting rid of the football on time.”

Mullens has yet to be sacked while attempting 61 passes in two games. Beathard was sacked 18 times with 169 pass attempts, while Garoppolo was sacked 13 times with 89 pass attempts.

Mullens spent last season and the first three games this year on the practice squad before receiving the promotion to the 49ers’ 53-man roster.

In starts against the Raiders and New York Giants, Mullens has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 512 yards with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 104.0.

“I’ve told a lot of these players, Nick is a great example of working, such that, when your opportunity presents itself, you’re ready and good things come from that,” Lynch said. “I talked to my own kids about that. Nick Mullens is a great story because of the way he goes about his work each and every day.”