The San Francisco 49ers got their first win of the preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs last night. Phil Dawson connected on three field goal attempts, including two 55 yard field goals. The highlight of the game was the debut of B.J. Daniels. The seventh round draft pick looked pretty good as he took over the fourth quarter. As a result, many fans have asked the question: Should Daniels be the backup quarterback?
Daniels seemed to have the offense going at a good pace when he came in. The first drift stalled as Jewel Hampton was almost tackled for a safety. Daniels showed his arm strength on two down field throws from the two yard line. One of the throws was a back shoulder fade that should have been caught by undrafted free agent wide receiver, Chuck Jacobs.
The thing that was impressive about Daniels was that he knew where he wanted to go with the ball right away. One of the knocks on him coming out of South Florida was his decision making. He connected with Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins, each on slants. Both of the balls where placed perfectly and gave them a chance to catch the ball despite tight coverage. He also connected with tight end Marquis Gray on a nice 13-yard throw.
The best throw that Daniels made was his 14-yard touchdown pass to Jacobs. The thing that was so good about it was the anticipation and how he threw it to a spot. Quarterbacks have to give their playmakers a chance to make plays. Daniels trusted Jacobs to get to the back corner of the end zone and go up to make the play. The throw was not one that you typically see from a quarterback drafted in the seventh round. Once again, Daniels showed that he can be decisive with the ball and make some very good throws.
Most scouts that I talked to about Daniels had two knocks on him. One knock was his accuracy. The other was his decision making. Ironically, these where two things that appeared to be a strength against the Chiefs. When I watched Daniels at practice, I was impressed with how well the ball jumps off his arm. He has a very live arm. The came gets to his targets quickly.
The problem that I saw was that he stares down his receivers too often which had contributed towards him throwing an interception in each of the practices that I watched. There have been reports saying that he had thrown interceptions in many other practices as well.
The underdog player is always a fan favorite. Many fans questioned the selection of Daniels in the 2013 draft. Now that they have seem him have an effective drive that lead to a come from behind win against the Chiefs, many fans feel he should be the backup quarterback. There is much more to winning that job.
Jim Harbaugh did say that the backup job is still open. He mentioned the obvious, Scott Tolzien and Colt McCoy but he also said that Daniels is in the mix. Interestingly enough, Daniels didn’t get one snap at quarterback the next day when the 49ers played the Denver Broncos.
Both McCoy and Tolzien played against the first team defense of the Chiefs. Most of the time they had the reserves in on offense. As a result, the Chiefs got a lot of pressure on the two quarterbacks. Daniels was able to come in and play against the Chiefs’ reserves on defense. He definitely shined but his performance should be put in perspective.
I do not feel that he has earned the right to be the backup quarterback. I think that Colt McCoy should be. He is an experienced player with a decent amount of starts under his belt. McCoy did have two nice runs on third down that lead to the first downs against the Chiefs. He is a veteran that would be better suited to hold the fort down for a game or two if the unthinkable happened: an injury to Colin Kaepernick.
At the very least, Daniels should be in the mix for the number three quarterback spot. He has earned the right to get some extra reps next week against the Minnesota Vikings. I say give him a shot to again show that he can play.
Unfortunately, I predict Daniels will be a practice squad player. That’s not to say that he won’t contribute to the 49ers success this season. As a practice squad quarterback, he will be able to give the 49ers defense a good look as they prepare for the read option heavy Washington Redskins (Robert Griffin III), Seattle Seahawks (Russell Willson) and the Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton).