Wilson impersonator declares 49ers' defense ready

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Wilson impersonator declares 49ers' defense ready
September 14, 2013, 6:45 am
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The 49ers used third-string quarterback B.J. Daniels as the stand-in for Russell Wilson during practice this week. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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SANTA CLARA -- Rookie B.J. Daniels traded in his No. 5 jersey this week.

The 49ers’ third-string quarterback took center stage this week in the eyes of the team’s defense as No. 3.

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Daniels orchestrated the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive plays in the role of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the practices his defensive teammates for Sunday’s game.

And the man who should know best considers the 49ers’ defense fully prepared to face Wilson and the Seahawks on Sunday night.

“I got a lot more reps than I usually get this week,” Daniels said Friday, following the 49ers’ final full practice of the week. "It was an opportunity for me to practice against one of the great defenses. I feel like the defense did a great job of preparing for this game.”

Said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, “He (Daniels) did a real nice job.”

Daniels took over the scout-team duties from backup quarterback Colt McCoy because of his similarities to Wilson. Daniels and Wilson are both 5 foot 11. Both have strong throwing arms. And both are adept at running the read option. Daniels was able to use his elusiveness during practices to condition the 49ers' defense for plays that can be extended for several seconds while Wilson continues to look downfield for receivers to shake free.

“Yeah, B.J.’s got some quickness like he does,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “(They) got the similar size. B.J.’s not as fast as he is, but it is a good look for us.”

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Wilson was the second-fastest quarterback behind Robert Griffin at the 2012 NFL scouting combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. Daniels, who sustained a broken ankle during his final season at South Florida, was not invited to the combine. At this pro day, he reportedly ranged from 4.63 to 4.90 in his multiple attempts.

A year ago, the 49ers’ defense was like every other team in the NFL. When the 49ers’ offense started running more read option in training camp, the starting defense moved to anther field. After all, the only time they figured to see that style of a quarterback was in a Week 4 game against the New York Jets, who had Tim Tebow at quarterback.

This summer, the 49ers defense worked a lot against the read option – whether it came from Colin Kaepernick, McCoy or Daniels.

“We don’t have a pocket-passer statue that we practice against a bunch in training camp, so we’re prepared for that all of camp,” 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith said. “I think we’ll be prepared.”

Daniels won the No. 3 quarterback job in training camp over Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace after the 49ers selected him in the seventh round of the draft.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll intimated the Seahawks would have been interested in adding Daniels as a free agent or claiming him off waivers if the 49ers had decided to cut him and attempt to bring him back to the practice squad.

“We thought he was a very good football player and somewhat underrated and under the radar a little bit, but obviously not there because they (the 49ers) figured it out and drafted him,” Carroll said.”

Daniels will have at least three more weeks this season in which he is likely to play big roles on the practice field. The 49ers play the Seahawks again on Dec. 8, and before they’ll face Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers on Nov. 10 and Washington’s Griffin on Nov. 25.