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49ers 2011 Undrafted Free Agent Signings: Jeremiah Masoli, A Story Of Roses?

Fooch's Note: The 49ers officially announced their rookie free agent signings and we have one twist already. They have listed Jeremiah Masoli as a running back and NOT as a quarterback. Masoli was a quarterback in college but his athleticism was much further along than his passing abilities. Nocal wrote this up for a post later today, but given this interesting twist I thought I'd post it now (note his prediction in the second to last paragraph, written before this announcement). Also, it gives us both a new angle on the Gore talk (MASOLI IS OUR FUTURE!) and also a chance to talk about something other than Gore a tthe same time.

One thing that about spending hours watching a ton of college football is that I have a nice understanding of "unheralded" players as they join NFL training camp rosters. Well, Jeremiah Masoli is no different.

Let me be clear before going into in regards to the former Oregon and Mississippi signal caller, he wasn't even on my radar when signing came down Monday night. Its hard to imagine him even coming close to sniffing the 53 man roster, but lets take a quick look at how he translates to the next level. 

In 2009 Masoli led the Oregon Ducks to a 10-2 regular season record and took them to the Rose Bowl. He had a combined 3000 yards and 35 touchdowns, needless to say it was a huge season for the San Francisco native. However, it went downhill from there. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State and was quickly kicked off the team for the following reason.

This is from a local Eugene Oregon Newspaper immediately following Masoli's arrest in 2010 

Masoli is currently facing burglary charges for the January theft of a computer from a University of Oregon fraternity house. Legal experts note that in most cases a conviction for second degree burglary would only result in probation.

Masoli ended up pleading guilty to the theft charges, received 12 months probation and was quickly booted from Oregon's football team. He was suspended for the 2010 season, but a short time later a marijuana possession charge resulted in his dismissal from the team entirely.

Masoli ended up enrolling in grad school at the University of Mississippi, fully expecting to be given a pass to play that fall for the Rebels. However, the NCAA denied that request and he had to sit out an entire season. Within 6 months Masoli went from serious Heisman contender to not playing football.

Masoli would end up being the starting QB for Mississippi last season but failed to regain old form throwing just one more TD than INT, while leading the Rebels to a 4-8 record. With that he fell of the NFL radar and became somewhat of an enigma within the college ranks.

Okay, with all that bad information noted above lets get into some positives in regards to Masoli. He is a San Francisco native that does have a tremendous amount of talent and upside, despite character concerns. 

The following is from Draft Insider

Positive: Athletic quarterback who is better running with the ball. Runs low to the ground, spins off tackles, and shows the ability to create yardage. Not afraid to take the ball up the field and runs with an aggressive style. Sells ball fakes when passing, locates the open receiver, and looks away from cover targets.

Negative: Possesses an average arm. Marginally accurate and misjudges passes. Will force the ball into covered receivers down the field.

I really enjoyed watching Masoli play at Oregon, he could take over a game with his athletic ability. However, he has marginal accuracy and and tends to throw the ball into traffic without looking into second or third reads. He is extremely unpolished and not ready for the NFL. Masoli never completed 60 percent of his passes in three college seasons and had a high interception ratio. However, it must be noted he was playing against near NFL caliber competition in the SEC.

I don' think he projects as a quarterback in the NFL. Instead, you are going to see him get some play at wide receiver or even running back. Masoli ran for nearly 2000 yards and 29 TDs in three college seasons, which is extremely impressive.

At this point the troubled San Francisco native is nothing more than training camp fodder. Maybe an arm to help take pressure off of Colin Kaepernick, who will be the only other quarterback in camp when it starts. Long term outlook could be a nice transition to the receiver or running back positions and spot on the practice squad.