The 49ers on Thursday added quarterback Nate Sudfeld on a Reserve/Future contract, but they had to shell out some cash to keep the QB in the building. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the deal for Sudfeld was for one year and included a fully guaranteed $2 million with a chance to jump to $3 million.

This isn’t necessarily an indicator that Sudfeld is a lock for the backup QB job, but it’s a sign that San Francisco believes he’s in the running. Schefter’s report also said two other teams that believe Sudfeld has starter potential were in the running for his services.

It makes sense that the 49ers want Sudfeld in the building since he already knows Trey Lance and the offense. That would make this offseason at least a little easier for Lance and allow the 49ers’ QB to hit the ground running when the offseason program begins. If they believe he’s good enough to be a starting-caliber quarterback though, then their interest will likely go beyond the offseason.

After a couple years in the Jimmy Garoppolo era where poor play from the backup QB derailed their season, the club will probably want to avoid having a No. 2 signal caller incapable of stepping in and winning games. Sudfeld hasn’t had much chance to show what he’s capable of in games. He appeared in four games across three seasons with Philadelphia and completed 25-of-37 throws for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He didn’t play at all for San Francisco last year while serving as the practice squad QB and backup for two games.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Sudfeld addition is what it means for the 49ers’ backup QB search. There was some thought they might overpay some for a veteran backup to help Lance, but Sudfeld could check that box at just $2 million for the year. Ultimately the team’s faith in Sudfeld will be shown in how they operate at QB the rest of the offseason, but this early step is an indication that he may very well be Lance’s backup in 2022.

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