Ben Roethlisberger

Mike Tomlin won't address if Steelers considered QB Colin Kaepernick


Mike Tomlin won't address if Steelers considered QB Colin Kaepernick

After the Pittsburgh Steelers lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season, they acted quickly Monday to add one quarterback to the active roster and another to the practice squad.

Mason Rudolph, a third-round draft pick, takes over as the starter, beginning Sunday against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it seems, never was under serious consideration.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was asked Monday if the organization contacted Kaepernick after learning that Roethlisberger would require season-ending surgery on his elbow. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016, but his résumé is more impressive than either rookie backup Devlin Hodges or Paxton Lynch, the club’s newest addition to the practice squad.

“Hey guys, I went through the process that we went through in terms of our decision making,” Tomlin said during a press conference Monday. “We went with Hodges because he’s been a significant component of our offseason and training camp; and for short term fluidity, we thought that was the best.

“And we acquired Paxton Lynch because he is practice squad eligible and we can bring him up to speed and evaluate him without utilizing a roster spot. I’m not talking openly about free agents that aren’t on our roster. That conversation could go on for days and be endless. There’s a number of people at the quarterback position and others that are unemployed in today’s NFL. I’m not going to use this forum to do that.”

[RELATED: Why Steelers need to do what's right: sign Colin Kaepernick]

Kaepernick has been the center of a national controversy since he chose to kneel during the playing of the national anthem during the 2016 season as a way to protest racial inequality.

In February, the NFL reached settlements with Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid on their collusion grievances. Reid remains in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers.

Kaepernick, 31, played six seasons with the 49ers. He appeared in 69 games with 58 starts. Kaepernick is a 59.8 percent career passer with 12,271 yards, 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions and has a career passer rating of 88.9. He also rushed for 2,300 yards.

49ers have No. 1-ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

49ers have No. 1-ranked backup QB situation in NFL with Nick Mullens

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is done for the season. New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees likely is out for the next two months. Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton is debilitated by a foot injury, and might miss Week 3 or even more.

The New York Jets' starter has mononucleosis, and his backup is out for the year with an ankle injury. Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Jameis Winston continues to regress, and the Miami Dolphins have scored a grand total of one touchdown over two games.

We're just over two weeks into the NFL regular season, and several teams already have serious QB issues.

The 49ers aren't one of them, however. Jimmy Garoppolo looked much improved in San Francisco's 41-17 beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, in which he threw for 297 yards and tied his career high with three touchdown passes. And behind him, the 49ers have the man The Ringer's Riley McAtee ranked as the best backup in all of football.

That's right, Nick Mullens is the best backup signal-caller in the NFL according to McAtee, who cited Mullens' performance in place of an injured Garoppolo last year to support his claim.

"Mullens’ [adjusted net yards per attempt] of 6.7 was 15th-best in the league among the 33 passers who registered at least 200 attempts," McAtee wrote. "That may not be replicable over a larger sample size or in an offense that isn’t built by Kyle Shanahan, but it was an incredibly promising level of production for the then-rookie. To put that number into perspective, Andrew Luck registered a 5.7 ANY/A in his rookie season.

"Mullens is not the next Luck, of course, but if Garoppolo ever misses time," McAtee continued, "Niners fans should feel confident in their backup."

[RELATED: Why this Jimmy G play from 49ers' win made Shanahan proud]

In closing, McAtee used some colorful language to hammer his point.

"Look at the other 31 names on this list: Outside of teams with rookies on the bench, there is no other squad that can put the same faith in their backup. The Niners are the only team that wouldn’t be f----d."

So, relative to the rest of the NFL, the 49ers appear to be in great shape when it comes to their overall quarterback situation. As for the teams who aren't, well, perhaps San Francisco can assist them from a position of strength.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers getting ready to face Mason Rudolph-led Steelers

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers getting ready to face Mason Rudolph-led Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger ranks in the top 10 all-time of some of the most significant NFL passing statistics.

The Steelers (0-2) will visit Levi’s Stadium with Mason Rudolph at quarterback on Sunday to face the 49ers (2-0), who will be looking to open unbeaten after three games for the first time since 1998.

Roethlisberger will not be in uniform against the 49ers on Sunday after requiring season-ending elbow surgery. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he and his coaches were in the early stages of preparing to face the Roethlisberger-less Steelers when he met with the media on Monday afternoon in Santa Clara.

“Any time they don’t have Ben, that’s a huge deal,” Shanahan said. “Ben’s one of the best quarterbacks of our generation, so I know it’s got to be huge blow for them. But I know Rudolph will be ready. He’ll step in. They’ve always had a good scheme. They know what they’re doing. They got some other players out there, too.

“It’s still the NFL. It’s going to be a very tough game, but any time you lose a guy like Ben Roethlisberger . . . everyone knows how good he is, and I still think he’s underrated, so that’s a big blow for them.”

Roethlisberger ranks sixth all-time with 56,545 passing yards; seventh in touchdowns (363) and completions (4,651); and tied for ninth in career yards per pass attempt (7.8). He has earned six trips to the Pro Bowl and is a two-time Super Bowl champion.

The Steelers led Seattle 10-7 at halftime at the point Roethlisberger left the game with the injury. Rudolph played the entire second half and completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 112 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in his first NFL appearance.

The Steelers selected Rudolph (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) in the third round of the 2018 draft with the No. 76 overall selection. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen  , Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson – all chosen in the first round – were the only quarterbacks drafted ahead of Rudolph.

Rudolph was inactive for every game last season, as the Steelers went with Joshua Dobbs as the backup quarterback last season.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should trade for Ramsey]

Rudolph won the backup job over Dobbs to open this season, and the Steelers traded Dobbs last week to Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft.

On Monday, the Steelers placed Ben Roethlisberger on injured reserve and promoted rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges from the practice squad to serve as Rudolph’s backup. Hodges originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent from Samford.