By: Chris Sanchez (@Chucky__Sanchez)
Final Edit: (@Zachhernan)
Going into 2017, the 49ers had zero quarterbacks under contract. It was obviously the number one area of need for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to address through free agency, the draft, or both.
At the outset of the free agency period, the 49ers signed journeyman signal-caller Brian Hoyer, Kyle Shanahan’s former pupil while with the Cleveland Browns. It was under Shanahan’s direction in 2014, that Hoyer enjoyed career-bests in passing yards, completions, and yards per attempt. Hoyer steered the Browns to a 7-4 record through eleven games.
However, his play tailed off and was severely lacking during the latter part of that season. Eventually he found himself benched in favor of Johnny Manziel.
I believe the 2014 season perfectly encompasses what Brian Hoyer represents as an NFL quarterback. He can throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns one week, then turn around and throw for 136 yards and four interceptions as he did while with the Texans during a wild-card playoff game. It is hard to know for sure what you will get out of Hoyer on a week-to-week basis.
Surely, at the moment he is the front-runner to start the 2017 season at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Hopefully, Shanahan and his staff can get more consistent play out of him. They don’t need him to make a ton of plays out of scheme. They simply need him to play within the system, distribute the ball to the pass-catchers, lean on the running game, and minimize turnovers. Sure, you could say that about any quarterback in any system. But I believe that is even more so the case with this young 49ers offense in year one of the Kyle Shanahan era.
With all that being said, let’s go over some of Hoyer’s strengths and weaknesses to get a better idea of what to expect out of him.
- Strong leader and competitor. You know you will always get everything out of him in terms of effort and competitiveness. He will play hard for his teammates and the coaching staff.
- He can make plays outside of the pocket, mainly whiled rolled out by design. This trait fits perfectly in Shanahan’s version of the WC offense.
- Solid upper-body technique and throwing motion. He is best as a short-to-intermediate passer. He can quickly get into a rhythm if he completes a series of short passes.
- Has been known to play through injuries and toughed it out when needed.
- Often has trouble reading defensive alignments. Mainly, he has issues looking off safeties. This often leads to interceptions.
- Lacking footwork. His unsound and almost nervous footwork sometimes hurts his mechanics which might be why he has rarely been a high completion percentage quarterback.
- Does not possess a very strong arm. Struggles with accuracy and depth on long passes. He will connect on a few, but typically his deep ball lacks placement and he seldom puts enough air under the ball.
As you can see, there is a lot of give and take to Hoyer’s game. There are things to like about him. There are also some very alarming parts of his game. I would say he is clearly a stop-gap and not the long term solution at quarterback for the 49ers. However, if Shanahan and staff can provide him with a manageable scheme, I believe he can exceed expectations this upcoming season. If nothing else, he has knowledge of Shanahan’s system and can be a useful presence in the quarterback meeting room.
Stay tuned for the next article in our series reviewing the 2017 free agent class!