The San Francisco 49ers don’t have a lot of needs going into the draft. Most people would say at first glance that the QB position isn’t on their list of needs, but if you look at their revolving door of backup QBs last season, it is most certainly a need. The QB in this draft who would be the best fit in the 49ers’ offense would be Logan Thomas from Virginia Tech.
As it stands right now, their backup is Blaine Gabbert. If Colin Kaepernick were to get injured, the 49ers would be forced to change their style of offense for Gabbert to run it even remotely effectively. This would be a huge problem because their offense has been assembled to run a certain kind of offense, one that Gabbert can’t run effectively. This is why they need a QB much more similar to Kaepernick’s style of play.
Thomas can be that player. He stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 248 pounds, and can run a 4.61-second 40-yard dash. Although that isn’t blazing speed, he is an extremely large quarterback who is tough for defenders to bring down when he keeps the ball on the read-option plays. Thomas also has very good arm strength.
Another advantage to the 49ers drafting Thomas is that they wouldn’t have to be so afraid to call designed run plays for Kaepernick. Once they traded Alex Smith last offseason and lost their legitimate backup QB, it became apparent they didn’t want Kaepernick running the ball nearly as much as he did in the previous season. With Thomas on the roster, I would expect offensive coordinator Greg Roman to call more read-option plays for Kaepernick.
The biggest downside to Thomas is that he’s raw. At Virginia Tech, they ran a lot of bubble screens and a variety of other screen passes. While he has a decent deep ball, he lacks accuracy on intermediate routes. His biggest problem is that he throws off of his back foot a lot. He was able to get away with it a lot in college, but that isn’t something QBs are able to get away with in the NFL.
With these deficiencies, Thomas is surely considered a project. But, the 49ers have the quarterback whisperer himself on their staff, head coach Jim Harbaugh. No matter where he’s coached at, he’s had a successful quarterback that no one expected to do as well as they did.
Thomas would also have one of the best QB coaches in the league, Geep Chryst, at his disposal. If Thomas is going to succeed in the NFL, the 49ers will most likely be his best bet even if it is as the backup quarterback.
Thomas will most likely go in the middle to late rounds, and the 49ers have 11 total picks. They can absolutely afford to take a chance on Thomas and hope he develops into a legitimate backup quarterback. If the 49ers take him, look for him to earn his stripes on the practice squad at the beginning of the season and eventually work his way up the depth chart to replace Gabbert as the backup.