SANTA CLARA -– Rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel took advantage of third-team practice snaps during the offseason program and gave the 49ers a bonus, as well.
Not only did Driskel impress the coaching staff at his natural position after arriving in the offseason program as a sixth-round draft pick, he also showed a willingness to help out on special teams.
“I think he’s done a really nice job,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s really intelligent. (He) picked things up conceptually very quickly. (He) was exposed to a couple of systems because he was at Florida and then Louisiana Tech.
“I think he’s already been exposed to multiple systems at the college level, so we’ve been impressed with him. He’s very athletic. I think he was the fastest quarterback at the combine. He’s big. He’s got a good arm.”
Driskel’s size (6 foot 4, 234 pounds) and speed (4.56 seconds in the 40-yard dash) made him a candidate to get practice as a personal protector on the 49ers’ punt team. Special teams coordinator Swinton said it’s possible the 49ers could run their standard offensive plays out of punt formation with Driskel on the field, lined up in front of punter Bradley Pinion.
“He’s a guy that’s athletic,” Swinton said. “He’s a guy that when he was at Florida, you saw him run all over. It comes down to a 53-man roster and if you do carry a guy like that, you just look at numbers.
“For me, I’m playing the numbers game. I try to squeeze every little bit out of it. You have a guy like Thad Lewis, when I had him as a rookie, Thad will tell you he covered every kick for us on the practice squad. So if you have a quarterback that can do that, it pays dividends for us.”
Kelly said the thought of Driskel seeing some action on special teams was a topic that was discussed even before the 49ers drafted him.
“He’s just a football player,” Kelly said. “He just wants to play football and whatever he can do to make a team, he’s going to try to do it.”
While Driskel showed plenty of promise at quarterback, he does not figure to put himself in a position to compete for the starting job against Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick.
Driskel, the team’s fourth quarterback, got third-team repetitions throughout the offseason program because of Kaepernick’s inactivity due to his rehab from shoulder, thumb and knee surgeries. Kaepernick was cleared for 7-on-7 work during the 49ers’ recently concluded minicamp, but Driskel still received approximately a dozen snaps each day with the third-team offense in 11-on-11 drills.
“He’s really smart,” Kelly said of Driskel. “(He has) very, very good football IQ. He processes it really well.”