When the San Francisco 49ers signed veteran journeyman QB Brian Hoyer this offseason, fan reaction was mixed.
Some 49ers fans were pleased with the Hoyer signing (especially the price-tag, which we will talk about in a second), but others made him out to be the second coming of Tim Tebow. And not in a charismatic, at-least-he-brings-in-female-fans-and-sell-jerseys kind of way.
Where is the QB? Because Hoyer is not QB.
— Álef (@alefcarmo) March 10, 2017
This is dumb.
Why? Because Brian Hoyer is a much better NFL quarterback than people give him credit for.
Hoyer started six games in Chicago last year before he suffered a broken arm that required surgery and ended his season. At that point the Bears were 1-5, which is objectively bad, but it wasn't Hoyer's fault. Pro Football Focus gave Hoyer a grade of 82.1 for his six starts — the 12th highest quarterback grade in the league last season!
Jay Cutler and Matt Barkley, the other two Bears starters who filled in when Hoyer went down last season, earned grades of 47.1 and 76.6 respectively.
The injury is a part of Hoyer's resume though — and not a positive one. His injury history also includes a few concussions that caused him to miss two late-season games with the Texans in 2015, and an ACL tear that put him on injured reserve for the last 10 games of the 2013 season with the Browns.
Even with the concussion troubles in 2015, Hoyer helped lead the Houston Texans to an AFC South title and playoff berth. It might have been better for his reputation if he hadn't though.
Hoyer was objectively bad in that 30-0 home loss to the Chiefs: 15-for-34 for 136 yards with four interceptions, a lost fumble, and no touchdowns. He was booed during the game and absolutely blasted on Twitter after it, as he should have been. But he shouldn't be defined by this game.
The single biggest piece of evidence that Hoyer is a worthwhile NFL starter is his work with the abjectly terrible Cleveland Browns.
Hoyer punched the clock for 16 shifts at the factory of sadness across the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In that time, he amassed an absolutely respectable 10-6 record. That is incredible.
In the 18 years since the Browns franchise was re-instated before the 1999 season, 26 different quarterbacks have started at least one game. Do you know how many of those guys posted a winning record in a Browns uniform? Exactly one.
Just look at how different the Browns offense was when Hoyer was on the field vs. when he was off it in those two seasons:
|Games||Record||Points per Game||Yards per Game|
|Hoyer Does NOT Start||16||1-15||15.4||311.4|
Sure, Hoyer did have the advantage of a mostly un-suspended Josh Gordon and a high-quality offensive coordinator, which is more than most of the other 25 quarterbacks on the sad, sad list of one-time Cleveland starters had.
But do you know who that high-quality offensive coordinator was? San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. They will work together this season, hoping to recapture the success they found together in Cleveland. (That was a weird sentence to write.)
Plus, the 49ers got Hoyer for practically nothing. His contract with San Francisco is worth a total of $12 million over the next two seasons, and just $5.3 million this year — making him the cheapest veteran starter in the league.
He's almost the cheapest starter in the league, period. Only three presumptive Week 1 starters will make less than Hoyer this season: Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Tom Savage (Texans), and Scott Tolzien (Colts — starting for an injured Andrew Luck). All three are on their rookie contracts.
To be totally fair, Hoyer's injury history counts against him. He has never started 16 games in a season in his career (though he hasn't been asked to start 16 games very many times either).
But the benefits outweigh the negatives by a long-shot. Hoyer is solid, he's cheap, and he is reuniting with a coach in Shanahan who helped him become the best Browns quarterback since Bernie Goddamn Kosar.
Get pumped 49ers fans. And besides, Luke Faulk is just a few short months away.