Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco will provide daily content previewing the NFL Draft, including position breakdowns, news stories, mock drafts and more. Here, he analyzes draft prospects at quarterback, and whether the 49ers should select one.
Not since the last time the 49ers had the No. 7 overall pick have they shown this much interest in using one of their top selections on a quarterback.
In 2011, the 49ers passed up a quarterback in the first round but traded up in the second round to grab Colin Kaepernick.
This year, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles placed a higher priority on obtaining one of the top two quarterbacks than the 49ers, who chose not to trade up into one of the top two spots.
But, as 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said last week, “We’re certainly not out of the market” for a quarterback.
The 49ers are unsettled at quarterback in the short term and long term.
Blaine Gabbert is not going anywhere this season, but he is not under contract for next year. Kaepernick’s representation requested a trade in February, and his status with the team beyond this week remains in question.
Baalke has maintained the 49ers intend to keep Kaepernick on the team. Baalke could have just declared that Kaepernick is off the market if the 49ers really intend to keep him, but he is keeping his trade options open.
“You never say never in this business,” Baalke said. “That gets you in trouble. For me to say, ‘Never,’ I’m not going to do that. I wouldn’t do that with any player on our roster. Every day as you see leading up to this draft, things change daily. Heck, they change by the minute right now within rosters. I cannot predict the future.”
Yet, Baalke did close the door on the possibility of a Kaepernick trade last year after he took issue with a Houston radio station that reported the 49ers were looking to trade their quarterback.
“Colin is our quarterback and we are excited to have him,” Baalke said in March 2015. “He is not going anywhere. The media reports suggesting otherwise are without merit and, quite frankly, ridiculous.”
Who’s here: Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Thad Lewis, Dylan Thompson
Draft needs: It is difficult to envision any draft pick coming in and winning the starting job as a rookie. But it seems like a good idea for coach Chip Kelly to pick a prospect in hopes of developing him to be a possible starter in future seasons.
Good fits: The merits of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook can be debated, but there have been whispers for months the 49ers are interested in selecting him. It’s uncertain whether the 49ers could stick with their second-round pick at No. 37 or if they would have to trade up in order to be in a position to draft him. Cook is the only known quarterback from outside the area to visit the 49ers’ Santa Clara complex.
Three former Pac-12 performers could interest the 49ers on the final day of the draft: Kevin Hogan (Stanford), Cody Kessler (USC) and Vernon Adams (Oregon).
Kelly attended Hogan’s pro day, and Hogan was in attendance at the 49ers’ local pro day in Santa Clara. Kessler is rated as Pro Football Focus’ most accurate draft prospect. Adams did not play for Kelly, but he knows the system so well he said he could regularly call out the Philadelphia Eagles’ plays last season as he watched them on TV. Adams could be available as a priority free agent if he is not drafted.
Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) represents the best of the dual-threat quarterbacks available in the draft, and conceivably could be a good fit within Kelly's scheme. As a senior, he completed 66.2 percent of his pass attempts with 29 touchdowns and five interceptions. And in his final three seasons, he gained an average of 800 yards per year on the ground. He rushed for 41 touchdowns in his four-year career.