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The general mantra of offseason workouts is that you really can't make any concrete conclusions about the players. After all, we're talking about players operating in shorts, jerseys, and helmets. Players can work on their technique, which is certainly a plus. However, when there is no hitting and no performing with full pads, it's really hard to tell where your players are in the physical aspects of their respective positions.
The 49ers wrapped up their final offseason practices this past Friday and begin to look ahead to training camp at the end of July. While we can't make a lot of judgment calls, there is one position, and one player in particular on whom we can project some strong educated guesses. That player would be quarterback Jarrett Brown. The undrafted free agent out of West Virginia was considered a highly talented player that was considered by some to be a sleeper in the draft. Upon learning of the team's signing of Brown, many folks here were fairly excited.
Unfortunately for Brown, he was extremely limited in practices this past week, as he received zero work in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Obviously it's only a short stretch of practice, but at the same time, on Thursday the team held David Carr out of the 11-on-11 drills (coaches' decision) and Nate Davis received all Carr's snaps. While it's an incredibly small sample size, it's certainly not a good sign for Brown at this point in time.
With David Carr more or less locked in as the backup QB, Brown's only chance of making the roster is to beat out Nate Davis. I'd imagine part of the reason Brown isn't getting time in the drills is that he's still learning the playbook. As we've repeatedly said, Nate Davis has a year's head start on him so that's not a shocker.
Davis struggled getting to learn the playbook early on, but managed to learn enough to impress folks in 2009 preseason action. Even though Davis was facing second, third and fourth string defenses, given that he was a rookie, Davis was rather impressive. The question is whether there will be enough snaps this preseason for Brown to potentially impress like that.
Last year, Davis was competing for snaps with Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, and Damon Huard. Although Huard was 36 in training camp, the team could have conceivably kept Huard and put Davis on the practice squad. Instead, Davis sufficiently outplayed Huard, and with his higher upside, it made sense for the team to stick with him over Huard. Brown faces a uniquely different challenge in 2010. Brown isn't battling a washed-up veteran like Huard. He's battling a still raw, but talented second year Davis.
Does anybody have any thoughts on how the team will split up snaps come training camp and the preseason? Smith will probably get one series in game one, maybe a quarter in game two, a half (and maybe a bit of the 3rd quarter) in game three, and close it out with a series or two in game four. If the team wants all four quarterbacks to get snaps, conceivably in game one we could see Carr finish out the first half, Davis play the third quarter and Brown get the fourth quarter.
Or do we see Jarrett Brown get next to no snaps? I'd like to think the team would want to see what Brown has to show, but it's a tough call. The team will want to see if Davis was a flash in the pan last preseason, so he'll certainly get some extended snaps. In fact, it's entirely possible he gets even more first half snaps so he can show what he's got against some improved competition. My prediction is primarily fourth quarter time for Brown. We'll see if that's enough to get him on the practice squad.
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