At the start of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s weekly teleconference, the team had not yet signed a quarterback.
Halfway through the conversation, though, Shanahan interrupted himself during a question about his familiarity with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay to announce that, yes, the 49ers had signed former Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage to the 53-man roster.
Savage, a fourth-round pick by Houston in 2014, spent four season with the Texans (2014-17), appearing in 13 games (nine starts) and going 181-for-315 passing for an even 2,000 yards and five touchdowns. He signed with the New Orleans Saints on March 16 of this year, and was released by the team on Sept. 1.
“He’s gotten to play in a number of NFL games so he’s been battle tested,” Shanahan said. “He was in a tough situation in Houston that didn’t work out for him, but I got to study him this preseason when he was in New Orleans and they have some similarities in their offense as ours. He had some high praises from [New Orleans Saints head coach] Sean Payton on him and I was excited that he was available.”
In 2017, Savage took 21 sacks in eight games (seven starts) after playing a total of five games over his first two seasons. Earlier this season, after starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season-ending ACL tear, Shanahan said that the team would not be signing a starter to replace him, preferring to go with C.J. Beathard and elevating practice squad quarterback Nick Mullens to the 53-man roster. So, the team held a workout, bringing in Savage, Kellen Clemens, Kyle Allen, Matt Simms, Landry Jones, T.J. Yates, and former Raider E.J. Manuel.
“Those workouts are just guys throwing on air,” Shanahan said. “You do that more just to make sure that they look that they’re the same guy that you’ve seen on tape. [Signing Savage] has to do with the people who have worked with him, things I have heard about him, the stuff I’ve studied on him from college and the type of skill sets he has.”
Savage will be the third quarterback, to be used only in case of emergency, Shanahan said. He will wear No. 14, and will be inactive Sunday against the Rams.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Savage was originally picked by the Texans in the fourth round (135th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, where he threw for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns, and nine interceptions during the 2013 season. Savage originally played at Rutgers, where he threw for 2,732 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 picks before transferring to Pitt.
“Just looking at the guys out there, there’s one thing I always liked about Savage, from coming out of college: He’s got a strong arm, he’s a very tough player,” Shanahan said. “He hangs in that pocket and plays the position well. I was a fan of his coming out of college.”
In order to make room on the roster, the 49ers waived tight end Cole Wick, and released offensive lineman Zack Golditch from the team’s practice squad.
Wick (6-6, 257) appeared in five games this season after spending the entire 2017 season on the team’s practice squad. Golditch (6-5, 295) originally signed to the team’s practice squad on September 3, 2018.