The San Francisco 49ers need to draft a quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft. This is no secret, under any circumstances. They only have one quarterback under contract, and he was demoted from second to third string after only a handful of passes attempted. We've beaten that subject to death at this point. Even if they sign a veteran free agent or retain Alex Smith, they still absolutely need to bring in a young, developmental guy. There's no other way about it.
Yet, the people who are talking about the 49ers addressing such a glaring need in the first round are, for all intents and purposes, a vocal minority. Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are the consensus top two, but they could be gone before the 49ers pick at seven. More than that, the 49ers might not be interested in either of these quarterbacks for Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman's West Coast Offense. After them, there's a drop-off and nobody else is truly considered worth a top ten pick. So mocks have cornerbacks and outside linebackers going to San Francisco, which makes perfect sense.
After that though, there will be a run of talented, but raw quarterbacks. This class is very deep in that regard. There's not a lot of high floor guys within, so teams will be looking to the beginning of the second round to get "their guy." One potential choice for the 49ers is right within their range in the second round (and potentially in the third round as well), and that's Colin Kaepernick. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that the 49ers are going to take an early look at him before his scheduled pro day, and that both Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke are expected to be on-hand.
Kaepernick has a strong arm, is accurate on the intermediate and deep routes, and has good instincts. His leadership ability is there, and he has the drive to compete and is of the opinion that he could start from day one. Negatives include less-than-stellar throwing mechanics and a questionable college offense (the "pistol") that he'll need to grow out of.
He's a solid developmental option with potential to start with the right offseason. In an interview on SB Nation, Kaepernick expressed his confidence that, not only could he run a west coast offense, but he could run any offense with the right preparation. But questions remain, and that's why teams schedule private workouts. It's the only real time the 49ers get to work with potential quarterbacks, as Alex Smith has been officially locked out of the team's facilities and is a pending free agent.
They'll look for Kaepernick to display the ability to hit quick timing routes that are so crucial. I doubt they have him showcase his deep ball at all, it will be slants, bubble screens and things of that nature. Kaepernick is scheduled to hold his pro day on March 22.