49ers continue backup QB musical chairs

The music stopped for one 49ers quarterback and began for another this week in Santa Clara.

John Skelton was left without a chair as the 49ers released the former Arizona starter signed last week in the wake of B.J. Daniels waive-and-claim debacle that landed the rookie in Seattle rather than on the practice squad.

Skelton was inactive for Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans and was seen cleaning out his locker Wednesday.

To replace him, the 49ers claimed former Balboa High standout McLeod Bethel-Thompson off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings who cut him after signing Josh Freeman.

The move brings the 6-4, 230-pound UCLA walk-on and Sacramento State product back to the 49ers with whom he spent 2011 training camp.

Bethel-Thompson, 25, has also spent time with the San Jose Sabercats, Sacramento Mountain Lions, and the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

This week’s roster moves don’t quite concur with head coach Jim Harbaugh’s statement on Oct. 2 in which he addressed the Skelton signing and Daniels release:

“I felt like we wanted to have two veteran quarterbacks, two guys that have started games, played in games, won games. I felt like that’s what we needed to do at this time. And we’ll be hopeful that B.J. will return, and trust that we have a plan for him and the process of developing him and getting him ready to play in the National Football League, as well.”

Bethel-Thompson has never played in an NFL game, but made three Arena League starts in 2011 completing 46 percent of his passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

During the 2011 UFL season he completed 58 percent of his throws for 615 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in two starts winning both games.

Bethel-Thompson is familiar with Greg Roman’s scheme and quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst. He’s an insurance policy.

For now, the depth behind Colin Kaepernick stands at former Browns starter Colt McCoy as the backup and Bethel-Thompson as the No. 3. And it’s clear they still want Daniels back.

The quarterback carousel also indicates just how important Alex Smith could have been in stabilizing the position of backup quarterback, a spot which has been anything but stable since Smith was traded in February.

Since then, the 49ers have signed and cut four backup quarterbacks for different reasons:

  • Seneca Wallace – to pressure McCoy to restructure his contract (taking less money)
  • Scott Tolzien – a career No. 3 who just wasn’t improving
  • B.J. Daniels – planned to develop on practice squad but Seahawks claimed him
  • John Skelton – brought in for depth and cut for a cheaper option

Let’s not forget the obligatory tryout they gave Nate Montana this off-season or their talks last month with Brady Quinn.

So what does this mean for the local kid Bethel-Thompson?

He’s a 49er for now, but could also the next quarterback out.


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