SAN FRANCISCO -- This column is about 49ers' first backup quarterback, Colt McCoy. But I have something to admit up front. I have zero interest in McCoy and I bet you feel the same.
Never in my life did I think I'd write about McCoy. I would have preferred to write about the four moron fans who ran onto the Candlestick field Sunday night, but that's not football and, as the players say, I only want to talk about football.
Which brings me to McCoy who, almost certainly, is not the real McCoy. The 49ers acquired him in the offseason to play second fiddle to starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who played in the first quarter Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings and did very well, as you would expect.
After that, coach Jim Harbaugh inserted McCoy into the game, such as it was. McCoy had been having a miserable preseason. He had looked like a very bad quarterback for a long time. His acquisition looked like a mistake.
McCoy started his latest assignment miserably. "Miserable" is a word that sticks with him. In the second quarter, he threw a pick and he completed four passes for an average "distance" of 3.3 yards. You could get more distance with a peashooter.
Rumors had been swirling the Niners were trying to trade McCoy. You could see why. It also is a fact that the team recently restructured McCoy's contract, which means they took away a bunch of dough and now are paying him the league minimum. That would be $630,000 plus incentives, a pittance to a ballplayer, although it's a ton of dough to you and me.
Why the restructure?
Well, if the Niners are paying him peanuts, he would be easy to trade. On the other hand — and this is interesting — they could be less eager to cut a guy making next to nothing.
This is the stuff you think about in preseason, convoluted stuff you hate thinking about.
And you think about this, also. Harbaugh played McCoy the second and third quarters. That's a lot of playing time considering Harbaugh had three other quarterbacks salivating to play.
Did Harbaugh play McCoy so much because he wanted to showcase the guy for a trade? Or was he giving McCoy experience in case — heaven help the Niners — Kaepernick gets hurt in the regular season and the Niners need another thrower.
Funny thing, as the game progressed McCoy played better. He actually played well. We are not talking Joe Montana-well or even Jeff Garcia-well. But we are talking respectable, professional, can do the job, whatever a backup's job is.
And after a while, it became clear Harbaugh wasn't just showcasing the guy for a trade — putting another team before his own. He was giving McCoy a chance. And McCoy was taking advantage of his chance, rising to the occasion, not being a dud.
After the exhibition game — I refuse to give the score on general principles — Harbaugh came to the interview room looking frisky. He's more talkative these days, actually answers questions instead of grunting, "I can't answer that because it's scheme."
So after someone asked a throat-clearing question about the third preseason game, I asked the head coach if McCoy is now the backup quarterback. I had no idea how Harbaugh would answer. For all I knew, he would bark or imitate a hoot owl or stare me down. Silly me.