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NFL notebook: McCown goes from prep coach to NFL quarterback on one call

SHARE NFL notebook: McCown goes from prep coach to NFL quarterback on one call

Josh McCown was keeping busy coaching high school football back in North Carolina while he waited for the phone to ring, knowing another opportunity might never come.

One call from the San Francisco 49ers changed everything.

McCown signed a one-year deal for the league minimum of $810,000 on Wednesday to be a backup for the 49ers, giving his career new life and adding a veteran to the quarterback competition.

He is expected to compete with rookie Colin Kaepernick for the No. 2 spot behind presumed starter Alex Smith. After throwing passes on a high school field for most of the summer, the opportunity to join new coach Jim Harbaugh's team was more than McCown could ever hope for.

"When you're sitting there waiting for the phone to ring, you work out every day, you want something else to do," McCown said. "I'm excited."

McCown's career has gone through a rapid turnaround.

He took an early morning flight from Charlotte to the Bay Area via Chicago, passed a physical, signed his contract and was on the practice field by the afternoon wearing No. 9. McCown clearly has some catching up to do if he wants to make the final roster. He was intercepted twice in limited action in practice, both by Dashon Goldson, although one was on a last-second heave to the end zone

The 32-year-old was with the United Football League's Hartford Colonials last year and had no plans to return to professional football for anything less than a NFL job. McCown spent eight seasons in the NFL, including the first four with the Arizona Cardinals.

He also played for Detroit, Oakland and Carolina. McCown's best season came in 2004 when he started 13 games for the Cardinals, throwing for 2,511 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

MACLIN CLEARED TO RETURN THE TEAM: Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who still hasn't practiced yet, has been cleared to return to the team after a cancer scare, trainer Rick Burkholder said Wednesday.

Burkholder said, barring a setback, Maclin will return to practice within 10 days and should be able to play in the Sept. 11 opener at St. Louis.

Burkholder said Maclin began experiencing symptoms — night sweats, fever, loss of weight, loss of appetite — in March, synonymous with lymphoma, a form of cancer. But a five-month battery of tests taken in both Philadelphia and St. Louis came back inconclusive, and not until Wednesday, was Maclin finally cleared of all serious conditions.

Maclin was tested for HIV and numerous other diseases and underwent several tests, including scans. He also consulted with a hematologist, an oncologist and an infectious disease specialist, among others.

"Frankly," Burkholder said, "nobody could come up with a definitive diagnosis."

Burkholder, speaking on a conference call from Pittsburgh, where the Eagles face the Steelers in a preseason game Thursday, reported Maclin's symptoms disappeared at some point before late July. He said the cause of the symptoms remains "vague."