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Why Is Josh Johnson With The 49ers? Competition? Familiarity?

Much has been said already about the signing of quarterback Josh Johnson and what it means for the current players on the San Francisco 49ers' roster. Does it mean there's now a competition with Alex Smith for the starting job, or does it mean Johnson and second-year player Colin Kaepernick are going to throw down for the main backup role? Perhaps Johnson is actually the fourth quarterback and that's what the team wants to go with, utilizing him in different ways here and there. Or maybe he's just a replacement for third-stringer Scott Tolzien.

Well, the truth is that nobody is really sure at this point. When it all comes down to it, Johnson wants to compete for a starting role, and didn't truly get that opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were always going to go with Josh Freeman, who cost them a first-round pick, and for the most part, that's worked out for them. Johnson has always been an under-the-radar kind of guy.

So, we know Johnson wants to compete - he told the Bay Area media as much before Smith re-signed with the team, even if Smith were to come back. Well, Smith is back and Johnson is here, with Kaepernick and Tolzien in the fray. This is likely quite a few things at work here, let's take a look at a couple of them.

It's unlikely that the 49ers are not confident in Smith. They didn't feel pressured into giving him more guaranteed dollars, lest their season be lost, but they do feel like they can win football games with him at the position. This much is known to be true. But ...

It's possible that the 49ers are not totally happy with said production from the quarterbacks. Johnson is a guy who has worked with Harbaugh in the past and has a chance to put up bigger stats than Alex, if he has what it takes at the pro level. Even if the 49ers are confident in Smith, that doesn't mean they're thoroughly satisfied. Mixing it up increases the chances that you'll find someone who truly fits.

Or perhaps the 49ers are just doing Johnson a favor. Harbaugh likes him, and they might consider him the No. 3 guy now. Who really knows?

There's all kinds of other things to consider - like perhaps they're keeping Kaepernick busy while he rides the bench, or they're not satisfied with Kaepernick after drafting him. At any rate, it's highly unlikely that Johnson is here to have an actual, factual competition with Smith. Not after the money they just gave him.

Let's just call it interesting.