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Dylan Thompson Reflects on Path from Undrafted to 49ers Backup QB


View every player currently on the San Francisco 49ers 2017 90-man roster.

Tuesday's Niners Daily looks at the path one rookie took to make the 53-man roster.


An undrafted rookie can grow up a lot in 11 weeks.

Just look at Dylan Thompson.

After spending the first three months of the season far away from the spotlight, the signal-caller out of South Carolina now finds himself one play away from going under center for the San Francisco 49ers.

Thompson was promoted from the practice squad last Saturday when it was determined that Colin Kaepernick would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery and be placed on the Injured Reserve List. The 49ers signed veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad on Tuesday, meaning that Thompson will likely retain his role on the 53-man roster as Blaine Gabbert's backup for a Week 12 home against the Arizona Cardinals.

Thompson, 24, led the SEC with 3,564 passing yards in 2014. Despite the impressive statistics in the nation's toughest conference, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback did not hear his name called in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Thompson signed with the 49ers shortly after and earned a spot on the practice squad with a solid showing in the offseason program and training camp. He completed 24 of 40 passes for 277 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 76.8 in the preseason.

Thompson also took all of the snaps in a 14-12 win over the San Diego Chargers in the preseason finale. Thompson threw for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory.

On Monday, Thompson discussed his growth behind the scenes in his first NFL season. The rookie credited his development to being exposed to weekly gameplans and collaborating with offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, quarterbacks coach Steve Logan, Gabbert and Kaepernick.

"I think that helped a lot for the spot I'm in now," the rookie said. "Geep and coach Logan have done a good job of keeping me prepared (and) teaching me, so it's been good."

Thompson did not see action in his first NFL game, a Week 11 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

But even though Gabbert finished the game unscathed, Thompson was able to reflect on the "awesome" feeling of being so close to leading an NFL offense.

"You never want (your first snaps) to be due to injury," the rookie began, "but when opportunity is there for you to move up and in this case be able to dress, it's a good thing for you personally."

Thompson emphasized how Gabbert and Kaepernick have been excellent sources of information this season.

"These two guys have been awesome for me, just really nice guys," Thompson said. "Any question I've had, they've helped me. They were that way with each other."

Thompson's practice role will change slightly with Kaepernick's season being over. The rookie will take on more scout-team reps, a role that he relishes at this point of his young career.

"(I'm) just trying to take advantage right now of every piece of tape I look at, every time I get a rep in practice and get ready to go," Thompson said.

Follow along as San Francisco's rookies from 2015 train for their first NFL season.

Perhaps the biggest change for the rookie signal-caller was adjusting to the terminology of San Francisco's offense. Thompson admitted that verbiage he learned at South Carolina would mean something different in Chryst's scheme with the 49ers.

But now that Thompson better understands the offensive lexicon with his first NFL club, the rookie said he's been able to grow rapidly in less than a full season.

When asked if he's more seasoned and prepared to play than he was for the Sept. 3 preseason game against the Chargers, the rookie did not hesitate to respond.

"Definitely," Thompson said.

But that doesn't mean his preparation habits will change.

"I've got to be ready to play at this level when my number is called," Thompson said. "That's what I'm preparing to do."

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