The San Francisco 49ers enter training camp in a few weeks with 11 players in their 2016 draft class, not including undrafted free agents. Each player enters camp with different expectations, and odds are pretty good expectations will have changed for some of them by the end of training camp.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the best and worst case expectations for each player (players and links listed at the bottom). We’ll also try and come up with “realistic expectations,” but those extremes of best and worst will give us a framework heading into training camp. I want best and worst to be somewhat measured in realism, so we won’t have “gets cut” as the worst case scenario for every player. The same holds true for pie in the sky optimism.
Today, we’ll look at quarterback Jeff Driskel. The 49ers selected the Louisiana Tech product in the sixth round with the pick they acquired from the Denver Broncos in the Vernon Davis trade. He joins a depth chart that includes Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, and free agent addition Thad Lewis.
Best case scenario
He impresses in camp and the team keeps him as the third quarterback. His regular season likely results in him being inactive all 16 games, barring injuries to Gabbert and/or Kaepernick. However, one possibility is Gabbert wins the job, and the team goes more with an RG3 plan with Kaepernick, deactivating him for all 16 games with plans to trade or release him after the season. Driskel suddenly finds himself as Gabbert’s backup. I think this is unlikely, but it would not shock me.
Worst case scenario
I could see this as two potential scenarios. One would be that he fails to impress, and the team chooses to cut him and not sign him to the practice squad. The second would be that he shows some stuff, but the team cuts him to place him on the practice squad. However, he is claimed off waivers and so the 49ers lose out. I suppose that would be more a fan worst case scenario than what Driskel would view as a worst case scenario.
He earns a roster spot and is inactive all 16 games. There is a chance the team ends up trying to slip him to the practice squad, but I doubt it. He has gotten some work on special teams, but I would be surprised if he ended up active just to be a special teamer. Injuries could change that, but my guess is he is inactive most, if not all of the season.
1 (7). DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon (best case/worst case)
1 (28). Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (best case/worst case)
3 (5). Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State (best case/worst case)
4 (35). Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU (best case/worst case)
5 (3). Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State (best case/worst case)
5 (6). John Theus, OT, Georgia (best case/worst case)
5 (35). Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
6 (32). Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (best case/worst case)
6 (36). Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida (best case/worst case)
6 (38). Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State (best case/worst case)
7 (28). Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky