SANTA CLARA -– Jeff Driskel took four pre-draft visits, but when the phone rang on Saturday, it was not a familiar voice on the other end.
The 49ers had not paid much attention to the Louisiana Tech quarterback in the months leading up to the draft. Driskel took visits to San Diego, Kansas City, Denver and Houston, while having no contact with the 49ers.
But it was coach Chip Kelly who called about 30 minutes before the 49ers were scheduled to go on the clock in the sixth round.
Thirteen quarterbacks had already been chosen when the 49ers called back to inform Driskel that he, indeed, was their selection with the No. 207 overall pick.
“As a competitor, you always want to be regarded highly, and you want to be the first one taken,” Driskel said on Thursday. “And you think you should go before this guy or that guy. But at the end of the end of the day, I’m happy that I landed here. I think it’s a great fit. Can’t wait to get to work with these guys. I think it’s the perfect fit.”
Driskel said during a conference call with the Bay Area media shortly after he was drafted that he is “a rare talent.” Kelly cited Driskel’s physical skills in explaining what attracted the 49ers to him.
Driskel (6-foot-4, 234 pounds) posted the fastest time of the 18 quarterbacks who were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Driskel ran a time of 4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
After spending four seasons at Florida, including a year in which he was granted a medical redshirt, Driskel finished up at Louisiana Tech, where he threw 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 323 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games as a senior.
He said he is comfortable running the zone read in Kelly’s system.
“I’ve done it a lot,” Driskel said. “Just about every offense I’ve been in, I’ve done the zone read. It’s a play I feel like I’m good at. I got a good feel for what the defensive end is going to do. And have a good feel for hitting it up inside when the defense collapses on me. So it’s a play I’ve done before in the past, and I know it’s a part of the offense here.”
Driskel, who signed his required four-year contract upon reporting to the team’s rookie minicamp, will remain in Santa Clara for the balance of the offseason program. He will attempt to earn a roster spot as he joins Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Thad Lewis and Dylan Thompson on the 90-man roster.