Landing Brian Hoyer allows 49ers to keep quarterback options open

Hoyer gives 49ers QB flexibility (0:43)

Adam Schefter says the 49ers aren't committed to Brian Hoyer as the team's starting quarterback. (0:43)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers have a quarterback. ESPN's Adam Caplan reported Wednesday afternoon that the Niners are expected to finalize a two-year deal with veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer when the new league year opens Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.

That news comes on the heels of the Niners' expected deal for wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Like Garcon, Hoyer has a history with Niners coach Kyle Shanahan. Hoyer had his best season playing for Shanahan in Cleveland in 2014, throwing for a career-high 3,326 yards and leading the NFL in yards per completion (13.7) in 13 starts.

Terms: Two years, $12 million with upside to $18 million (incentives at 2,500 yards passing, 20 touchdowns each season), $10 million guaranteed.

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Grade: B. This is a logical move on a number of fronts. Hoyer had his best year with Shanahan in 2014 and, like Garcon, can help lessen the learning curve for teammates as the Niners install Shanahan's system. Hoyer isn't the long-term solution here, but the Niners aren't expecting him to be. Instead, he can serve as a bridge to the player who is and buy the 49ers time to identify that person. And if something changes and the 49ers do locate that quarterback this offseason, Hoyer would be a strong veteran backup.

What it means: Entering this free-agent market, Hoyer was looking for a starting job and though he had multiple teams pursue him, not all were willing to offer that. The Niners can, even if it's a short-term arrangement. On a macro level, this would seem to be a strong indication that the Niners intend to follow through on their commitment to being patient in their search for a franchise quarterback. Specifically, it's a signal that they aren't going to make an over-the-top trade offer to land Washington's Kirk Cousins this year, knowing they could potentially get him as a free agent next year. That doesn't mean the 49ers won't keep exploring all options. It just means they understand that this roster has serious needs and they can't afford to give up the farm to get a quarterback who wouldn't have much around him if they made such a deal. In the interim, Hoyer has the look of an upgrade over what the 49ers have employed at quarterback in recent years.

What's the risk: Hoyer, 31, is coming off a broken left (non-throwing) arm and has had some concussion issues in his career. Assuming the deal is finalized as expected, Hoyer will be the only quarterback on the roster and with Matt Schaub expected to return to the Atlanta Falcons, the Niners will now have to be smart about finding a backup with some experience because none of the rookie quarterbacks have the look of an early starter. San Francisco will also have to continue to seek weapons to surround Hoyer as a way to minimize his weaknesses.