SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers added another quarterback to the depth chart Thursday night, when they agreed to a contract with Matt Barkley. As was the case with earlier addition Brian Hoyer, Barkley comes to the Niners from the Chicago Bears.
As expected, the Niners quarterback room is going through a complete makeover. With Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Thad Lewis and Christian Ponder hitting the free-agent market, San Francisco still needs to add another, but at this point, it seems likely a third signal-caller will come at some point in the draft.
Terms: Two years, no money yet.
ESPN 150 ranking: No. 142
Grade: C-minus The 49ers need depth at quarterback, and Barkley provides that, though he has yet to deliver much production in his limited opportunities so far in his career. In fact, Barkley's lone win in six games as a starter last season came against the 49ers in Chicago. For the season, Barkley was 129-of-216 for 1,611 yards with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions; his passer rating was a meager 68.3. The Niners won't count on Barkley to do more than offer a backup to Hoyer and help a rookie. Maybe working with coach Kyle Shanahan will help the 26-year-old, but this signing doesn't move the needle much.
What it means: Once again, the Niners don't appear to be adding Kirk Cousins this offseason. General manager John Lynch has made it clear San Francisco will keep exploring all options, but with Barkley and Hoyer now in place, the safe bet is that the Niners will turn to the draft to find a third quarterback to round out the depth chart. That doesn't necessarily mean that player will come in the first round or two, but it would make sense for them to find a developmental option at some point. In that same line of thinking, this looks like yet another indication that Kaepernick won't be returning to San Francisco.
What's the risk? Although contract terms aren't yet available, it's unlikely the Niners spent much money on Barkley, so there isn't much risk in that regard. The real risk here is if Barkley ends up the primary backup to Hoyer and Hoyer suffers an injury or has another bout of late-season struggles that thrust Barkley into the starting lineup. At this point in his career, Barkley has proven capable of being a backup who can occasionally come in and manage a game, but his starting for an extended period of time probably wouldn't produce many positive results. In an ideal world, Hoyer stays healthy, the Niners can find a rookie who can learn behind him, and Barkley can serve as the No. 3 option.