The 49ers may have struck gold with B.J. Daniels. Even though he will (hopefully) never need to play for Jim Harbaugh in the regular season, the 7th round draft pick this past year has surprised many with his strong preseason performances. Where, though, did he come from?
Bruce Edward Daniels—no word on where the J comes from—grew up in the Tallahassee, Florida area, where he starred in basketball and football at Lincoln High School—he was first team All-State in both sports his senior year. A top-50 quarterback according to Scout.com, he attended South Florida. After getting injured and redshirting the remainder of his true freshman season, he played on the basketball squad at USF.
Daniels came on strong his redshirt freshman season when he got the chance. After replacing Matt Grothe, a Big East record holder, Daniels earned the conference’s co-Rookie of the Year honor (alongside Jason Pierre-Paul, if that rings a bell). He had a monster game against Louisville with 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. His qb rating that year still is second ever for the conference at 139.6.
Then an injury trend started. In each of his last three seasons, Daniels missed at least one game due to injury. His senior year was his most severely shortened as he only started nine games. His sophomore campaign saw a severe drop in performance. The dual-threat qb had only 259 rushing yards in 12 games. His passing stats were nothing special either: 1,685 yards, 11 TD, and 13 INT. Daniels bounced back in his junior campaign with perhaps his best season. He had 2,604 yards with a 58.9% completion rate, nearly a 2:1 TD to INT ratio, and over 600 rushing yards. He showed a fair amount of promise going into his senior season, especially for a quarterback in the oft-ridiculed former Big East.
Daniels was on national award Watch Lists when he broke his leg in the ninth game of the season. This, obviously, affected his draft stock. The 49ers may have benefited. If the late-round pick can prove a promising and healthy backup, the 49ers’ recent Colt McCoy saga should soon join the distant past. Who knows, maybe the 49ers can get a high round pick out of him in a few years, a la Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, etc. For now, I’ll look forward to watching him in one more fake game before I go back to Kaepernicking.