49ers' backup QB switch saves $7 million

The San Francisco 49ers are getting backup quarterback Colt McCoy at a bit of a discount.

The former Cleveland Browns starter could have earned $2.325 million in salary for the 2013 season based on contract escalators tied to performance earlier in his career. That figure, listed as McCoy's salary in NFL Players Association records that will apparently require adjusting, represented $575,000 in base salary plus a $1.75 million escalator for incentives reached during the 2011 season.

However, McCoy's salary with the 49ers will be $1.5 million after the team acquired him by trade Monday. That figure, reported by Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, represents middle ground between the minimum base salary and the contract's maximum value.

As is typical in some rookie contracts, McCoy received assurances that his fourth-year salary would equal the greater of a set amount -- $1.5 million in his case -- or the low tender amount for restricted free agents. That tradeoff results from teams wanting the player under contract for a fourth season, when players would otherwise become restricted free agents. In this case, the $1.5 million was greater than the RFA tender, but it was still far less than the $8.5 million San Francisco would have paid former backup Alex Smith had Smith remained on the roster.

The 49ers traded Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft choice.

McCoy will have to beat out Scott Tolzien and any other quarterbacks the team might acquire before earning a roster spot and collecting that $1.5 million. Tolzien is scheduled to earn $555,000 this season.