Over the weekend, I put together a 90-in-90 breakdown of 49ers QB/RB/PR B.J. Daniels. I predicted he would end up on the practice squad, although that prediction was not based on a lot given that we have not seen him in padded work. Training camp is big for everybody, but he is a guy who needs to show his athleticism translates to the NFL once the hitting starts happening.
After posting and tweeting out the article, I got into a brief discussion with one of the writers from SB Nation's South Florida blog, Voodoo Five. When the 49ers drafted Daniels, Ryan Smith wrote "The more intriguing selection is Daniels going to the San Francisco 49ers just five picks later, which I think I can safely say literally no one saw coming." Given that he was a seventh round pick, that tells us a little about perception.
Last season, B.J. Daniels suffered a broken ankle that ended his season in November. After his season ended, Voodoo Five opened up some discussion of the "B.J. Daniels era". While Daniels didn't have the same storyline as Alex Smith did with the 49ers, it sounds like he was in a tough situation coming in as the team's starting quarterback.
Ryan was able to take a few minutes to provide some of his thoughts on Daniels as he competes for a roster spot. Big thanks to Ryan.
I'm pretty opinionated when it comes to Daniels, so forgive me if I get a little lengthy. He got a ton of heat for USF's struggles in the latter half of his career-- not just from Bulls fans, but from college football fans around the nation. Toward his senior season he became a bit of a punchline... 25th year senior, interceptions, you name it.
That rep is pretty much completely unjustified. Ask any USF fan with half a brain and they'll tell you that B.J. was easily the best player the team had on offense, and the struggles he did have could be attributed to a few things. First, the Bulls were not very good; he was essentially their entire offense. Not once in his four years did he have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver to help carry the load, and by his senior season he was basically running for his life behind a dreadful offensive line. So he often had to go into Superman mode and try to win games himself. Sometimes he could, and sometimes he forced passes into double coverage and threw multiple interceptions on national television (this happened more times than I'd care to remember).
Secondly, Skip Holtz really tried to force him into a pro-style system that he was never really comfortable with-he was recruited for Jim Leavitt's spread. While he undoubtedly improved as a passer by his senior year (he's got a gun for an arm-- accuracy is entirely another issue), he was definitely a square peg in a round hole. There's no doubt in my mind he could've been a star for a team that played to his talents better.
That's why I was pretty thrilled to see him picked up by the 49ers. Most USF fans didn't see it coming at all; I figured NFL teams would see him as a streaky college quarterback and call it a day. But the 49ers seem as close to a perfect match as you could get. B.J. never played any position other than quarterback at USF, and he has a LONG way to go if he wants to play quarterback in the NFL, but I would not be surprised at all if Harbaugh was able to teach him up and mold him into a different kind of player than we saw in college.
If nothing else, he's got a good attitude (this sort of thing becomes evident when you're unfairly taking heat for losing games), and is absolutely the kind of guy who will bust his balls for the team and do whatever it takes to make the roster. More importantly, he definitely has the athleticism to be a pretty decent Swiss army knife-type player. I've seen 49ers fans take wildly different views on this-some think he can be Dante Hall returning kicks, some think he's worthless. I don't think he's going to wind up being a gamechanger on the NFL level, but he really is a special talent. If he improves his passing enough to justify inclusion on a roster, I see no reason why he wouldn't be able to help out all over the field-running back, receiver, returns, you name it.