Why Harbaugh is scouting this year's quarterback prospects

Why Harbaugh is scouting this year's quarterback prospects
March 27, 2014, 7:00 am
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Jim Harbaugh endorsed acquiring Blaine Gabbert largely due to his scouting prior to the 2011 draft. (USATSI)

Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is in Orlando, Florida for the NFL owners meetings; check back for all his coverage and watch SportsNet Central every night at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s football news

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The 49ers have their top two quarterbacks for the upcoming season, but that is not keeping coach Jim Harbaugh from checking out the draft prospects.

He attended the pro days of Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a good looking early-round prospect, and strong-armed Virginia Tech product Logan Thomas. Harbaugh said he also plans to have private workouts with Fresno State’s Derek Carr and David Fales of San Jose State, too.

Harbaugh takes an active role in his evaluations. He is not just a fly on the wall. He likes to get his hands dirty -- or, at least, a little beat up.

“I like to play catch with him,” Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings. “(I) like to see him throw. Go through their workout, see what kind of condition they’re in, and meet with him, talk to him, talk football with him, protections and try to get a feel for how much they know football-wise.

“Basically just talking football. Things you can’t do from watching a tape from a pro day.”

Attending these workouts -- even if the 49ers know they will not be able to get a player, such as Garoppolo or Carr -- serves a purpose for Harbaugh. His teams could end up facing these quarterbacks down the road, so he’ll be looking for a competitive advantage.

Also, there might be a time in the future when one of those players becomes available. Then, Harbaugh can lean on his experience from the draft process to determine his level of interest.

That’s exactly what happened with Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers were never going to take Gabbert in the first round of the 2011 draft, but Harbaugh did all the homework. He attended Missouri's pro day and even brought Gabbert to Santa Clara for a visit. Three years later, the Jacksonville Jaguars let it be known that Gabbert was available for a sixth-round draft pick.

[RELATED: Harbaugh has high expectations for Gabbert]

Based on his evaluation from the draft, Harbaugh endorsed the idea of acquiring Gabbert to be Colin Kaepernick’s backup.

 

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