The 49ers’ signing of free-agent Nate Sudfeld on Wednesday can hardly be perceived as a tectonic shift as it relates to the team’s direction at the quarterback position.
Sudfeld becomes the fourth quarterback on the 49ers’ roster, joining Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson.
And, yes, the 49ers will be adding another quarterback on April 29, when they make a selection with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.
The 49ers can keep five quarterbacks for a little while, but only four quarterbacks will still be on the 90-man roster at the beginning of training camp.
Then, three quarterbacks will remain with the 49ers when the regular season begins.
Kyle Shanahan is compiling quarterbacks who generally fit the same style of play.
Four years ago, in his first offseason as 49ers coach, Shanahan made a point about why he believes it is wise to have a depth chart of similar quarterbacks.
“You can’t practice everything,” Shanahan said in April 2017. “You can’t be great at everything. You’ve kind of got to commit to something and do it over and over and over again.”
Shanahan said once you commit to a style of play from your quarterback, you have to create consistency so that each quarterback on the roster does not warrant a different style of play. He said it is asking too much for the other players on the offense to be constantly adjusting.
“That’s why I think it can be harder when those types of guys are going through competitions because even though you’re trying to find the best guy, by trying to be fair to those quarterbacks, you’re also being unfair to a team,” Shanahan said.
This is not to say the signing of Sudfeld points toward or eliminates the 49ers from selecting Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones in the draft.
Sudfeld (6-foot-6, 227 pounds) has spent the past four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Rich Scangarello, the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, spent last season as Eagles senior offensive assistant.
Sudfeld, 27, a native of Modesto, has appeared in just four games in his NFL career, completing 25 of 37 passing attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown.
Sudfeld found himself in the spotlight in Week 17, when he entered early in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ game against Washington.
Then-Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson sent Sudfeld into the game in place of Jalen Hurts. Sudfeld completed just five of 12 passes for 32 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Pederson was widely criticized for the move. If the Eagles had won the game, Dallas would have won the division. Instead, Washington was basically handed the victory and the NFC East title. Pederson was fired two weeks later.
Perhaps, the 49ers do not see much of a difference between the pocket-passing abilities of the quarterbacks already under contract and the rookies they are known to be considering.
Fields and Lance are far-more accomplished in the run-pass option game. Jones, like the other quarterbacks on the 49ers, presents no threat with his running ability.
But if those young quarterbacks provide just as much — or more — skill from the pocket, the mobility aspect they bring to the table is just a bonus.