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How Do 49ers Judge Small-school QBs Like Fales?

Posted Apr 29, 2014

San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke saw San Jose State quarterback David Fales throw six touchdown passes last November, but film study is most paramount to Baalke and his staff.

Trent Baalke was at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 29, 2013, when San Jose State quarterback David Fales was 37-of-45 passing for 547 yards and six touchdown passes.

It wasn’t enough.

Well, it was for Fales’ team to best Fresno State, 62-52, but not for the San Francisco 49ers general manager’s evaluations.

Judging smaller-school signal-callers is no small task, as Baalke told reporters during his annual pre-NFL Draft chat with local reporters.

“You just do the best you can. The film is the film,” Baalke said. “You try to quicken the game up in your mind as you’re watching it because the game is going to get a lot faster. Do they have the physical traits to play the game faster? Ball-speed, is it fast enough? Foot-speed, is it quick enough? If it is, you can see it translated.

“If ball-speed isn’t there, and there are completions because defenders aren’t fast enough to make plays on the ball, that obviously creates a red flag. Do they have the physical traits, No. 1, to make the speed adjustment because the speed is so much faster, even from LSU to the NFL? You can imagine a quarterback from Eastern Illinois coming up to this level.”

READ: SF with 11 Picks in '14 Draft

The GM was indirectly referencing Jimmy Garoppolo, another non-football factory quarterback, who is expected to be drafted on Day 2, May 9.

Fales, for his part, has spent his offseason working on the strength of his legs and core muscles. At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, he is projected to be a fifth- or sixth-round pick by NFL.com but could go earlier

Wearing No. 11, Alex Smith’s former number with the 49ers, Fales worked out at the 49ers local pro day on Friday. The last SJSU quarterback to play for San Francisco, by the way, was Jeff Garcia. It's worth noting, too, that current starter Colin Kaepernick frequented University of Nevada, where Fales backed up Kaepernick in 2009.

Jim Harbaugh came away impressed by more than Fales’ 17-8 win-loss record at his last college stop.

“You see a very compact throwing motion, more compact than I saw during his career,” the coach said. “But he was still throwing the ball 50, 55 yards downfield, throwing the deep comebacks, the outside lanes like he threw in college. Easily, accurately and on a line. We talked a little after the workout. I don’t see any deficiencies that way.”

“I’m a big fan. My personal quarterback evaluation of this class has David in the top five.”

Baalke also said Fales “can make all the throws.”

But can he make them fast enough for the NFL?


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