No. 1: Quarterback Jeff Driskel
Of course the No. 1 bubble-watch player has to be a quarterback, right?
And no, let’s not focus on likely roster additions Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. Barring anything incredulous, they’ll both be there.
But what about rookie QB Jeff Driskel?
Had the 49ers picked up Driskel as an undrafted free agent, there would be a better-than-good chance he’d be stashed on the practice squad once the preseason ended — just like the 49ers did with quarterback Dylan Thompson a year ago.
Yet the Niners drafted Driskel in Round 6. While this round is nothing close to an assurance of a roster spot, it’s at least a better indication the team has hopes for a particular player.
And given the relative uncertainty under center for San Francisco this year, Driskel may be drawing more attention than just another camp-body QB.
Here’s a bold prediction for you — Driskel is starting by the season’s end, courtesy of our friends over at NFL Mocks:
"One unexpected surprise that hatches from it will be his decision to explore what the team might have in rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel. There is no denying he has a mix of arm talent, mobility and poise about him despite a rough go at Florida. No doubt the 49ers will want to see if he has a future as a starter before preparing for the draft next April."
Whoa. Driskel starting in 2016? That’s bold.
But it’s not completely removed from possibility either. It’s a rational argument.
To help determine whether or not this is a realistic option, the 49ers will certainly give Driskel a fair amount of snaps during the preseason. Keep an eye on these.
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If Driskel looks absolutely lost, there’s your answer. But if he shows some semblance of NFL productivity, there’s the remote chance he’s the 49ers’ guy under center at some point sooner rather than later.
With Kaepernick’s future in doubt, and Gabbert finishing off the final year of his current contract, the Niners may want to explore every available option before coming up with a game plan in 2017.