The San Francisco 49ers quarterback competition is focused on Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, but Jeff Driskel and Thad Lewis find themselves competing for a roster spot as the third string quarterback. The 49ers signed Lewis to a one-year deal, and drafted Driskel in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Earlier this week, Chip Kelly was asked what he has seen from Driskel thus far. It was the kind of answer you’d expect about most any mid-to-late round rookie quarterback. There are positives and negatives, and it’s all about growing into the NFL game:
“Yeah. I think Jeff’s really come along. He’s a guy that played in multiple systems in college. He was at Florida and then transferred to Louisiana Tech. So, he’s still learning and growing every day. I think there’s some plays where you get really excited and then there’s some other plays where you know he’s a rookie and you wish he was a little bit quicker in his decision making process. But, that’s on us as coaches to make sure he gets exposed to as much as we can get him exposed to so that he doesn’t continue to make the same mistakes. And that’s one thing about him, he’s usually a one-time guy where if he’ll make a mistake, he can correct it. But, he needs to do it first. You can talk things through all you want, but unless you put them in the situation and actually play it out, that’s when they get their real experience from it. He’s grown from that experience. It’s just a matter of how much experience we can get him at this point in time.”
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins was asked about Driskel as well. Again, we get some generic rookie QB comments:
“Jeff’s a young guy. He’s learning. Jeff has a really unique skillset, a really good skillset and we just look forward to him continuing to develop. But, I think both guys are doing a good job.”
Given the 49ers need to figure out their starting quarterback situation, I‘m really curious to see how many snaps Lewis and Driskel get. Chip Kelly has said the preseason games are where the competition will take a big step forward, and so I would expect a lot of snaps for Gabbert and Kaepernick. I could see them each getting a couple series in that first game, which leaves upwards of two quarters or more for Lewis and Driskel.
We’ll likely get a chance to see how Driskel looks against third and fourth string defensive players. I would not be surprised if he does some good things that gets folks irrationally excited about him.