GREEN BAY, Wis. — Quarterback school is back in session with the Packers.
Newly signed veteran Seneca Wallace is going to have to brush up on the playbook in a hurry to get ready to back up Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s season opener in San Francisco.
There’s a new third quarterback in Titletown, too, after Scott Tolzien was signed to the practice squad Monday.
Both quarterbacks just happened to be with the 49ers before getting picked up by the Packers. How convenient.
“I think any time players are (from) a former organization, there’s always (a thinking that) immediately they’re going to tell you everything about the 49ers,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Scott and Seneca both are more focused on getting ready for the game so they definitely can give you insight.”
More so Tolzien than Wallace. Tolzien was a backup the last two years for the 49ers, but never played in a game. Wallace was only in San Francisco for a week this preseason, competing for a backup job behind Colin Kaepernick.
But it’s Wallace who’s going to be Rodgers’ understudy. It’s quite a turnaround from last week, when he was languishing behind Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and B.J. Daniels on the 49ers depth chart.
When asked then, coach Jim Harbaugh said Wallace was “not going to continue to play football,” lending to speculation to whether Wallace decided to retire.
Not so, Wallace said Monday after his first Packers practice.
“No, no. It’s just miscommunication between me and Harbaugh. We talked about it. I called him to communicate that to him,” Wallace said. “It was just pretty much miscommunication between me and him.”
After being drafted by the Seahawks in 2003 out of Iowa State, Wallace went on to play seven seasons in Seattle. He’s also had stops with the Browns and Saints.
In 21 starts and 62 career games, Wallace has completed 59 percent of passes (452 of 764) for 4,808 yards and 31 touchdowns, along with 18 interceptions.
In a relatively young locker room, Wallace, a 10-year veteran, immediately becomes the most experienced player on offense. Only defensive tackle Ryan Pickett has more NFL experience with 13 seasons.
It’s that experience that drew McCarthy to his new backup. Wallace had time in a West Coast offense in Seattle under former coach Mike Holmgren, who used to coach the Packers. McCarthy said Wallace ran similar no-huddle schemes in Cleveland. Also, Wallace was drafted in Seattle while current Packers general manager Ted Thompson was the vice president of football operations there.
With Wallace and Tolzien, Green Bay is starting anew in its quest to find a capable backup to Rodgers after already jettisoning three candidates in the last several weeks. Graham Harrell is now with the Jets. Vince Young was cut over the weekend. B.J. Coleman was released after Wallace was signed.
Wallace’s journeyman background might also help him out.
“He’s been a backup quarterback primarily his whole career. He clearly understands the role, has a lot of experience in an out of systems,” McCarthy said. “Just talking football with him last night, I felt confident that he’ll be ready to play Sunday.”
Wallace was appreciative of the new opportunity. He gave thoughtful responses to questions from reporters, as if a wise sage offering advice to a rookie on life in NFL.
While he wouldn’t mind starting, Wallace is clearly comfortable with his role. He’s not going to supplant Rodgers, the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player.
“You can’t let that get to you. That’s part of it. We’re blessed to play a sport that most people dream to do,” he said. “The ones who stay around for a long period of time are the ones who get it.”
So there was Wallace on Monday on the practice field, watching several feet behind Rodgers as the offense ran through drills. Wallace walking alongside Rodgers during a break, where the two looked like they were talking shop. And Rodgers running through a quarterback drop for Wallace on a particularly quick pass play.
“It was a tough couple weeks, Wallace said, “but what happened is behind me and now I’m moving forward and focusing on being here in Green Bay and being the best provider as a backup to A-Rod.”