Fresno State QB Jake Haener could be 49ers cult hero if drafted

Quarterback Jake Haener #9 of the Fresno State Bulldogs (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Quarterback Jake Haener #9 of the Fresno State Bulldogs (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The 49ers’ local pro day took place this week, and Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener ended up being quite the star of the party.

Unless you’re a fan of Fresno State football, you probably never heard of quarterback Jake Haener until this week.

And it was the San Francisco 49ers who brought Haener into the fray by inviting him and a number of other local-area prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft into their pro day at Levi’s Stadium.

The Niners brought in 36 players to participate, but Haener was easily the most observable and discussed out of the bunch.

Haener is widely viewed as a day-three prospect, and San Francisco could be looking to reinforce its quarterbacking depth chart behind Brock Purdy, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold. Considering Purdy likely won’t be ready by the start of the regular season because of offseason elbow surgery, grabbing someone in the draft would seem like a smart play.

It worked, after all, a year ago with Purdy being selected as the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Jake Haener Passing Table
2020Fresno StateMWCJRQB615023264.720218.78.9145153.4
*2021Fresno StateMWCSRQB1332949067.140968.48.9339155.9
*2022Fresno StateMWCSRQB1025235072.028968.39.0203158.6
Fresno State731107268.290138.48.96717156.3

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 4/13/2023.

Understandably, and in light of the 49ers’ recent success with Purdy, comparisons between he and Haener are going to be made.

Except Haener isn’t buying them.

“I just feel like Brock’s different. I’m different,” Haener told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco at the event. “There are different things that we do in our games. I’m even older than Brock. Brock did a lot of really good things [last] year, and super happy for him and his family. But at the same time, I’m on my own mission, on my own train, and trying to do something for a franchise that believes in me.”

Would the Niners be a team that believes in Haener?

Possibly. It’s not a bad strategy to draft a quarterback each and every year regardless of what the depth chart and context both look like. San Francisco seemed fine at the position last offseason when both Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were listed alongside depth quarterback Nate Sudfeld.

Read More: 49ers could (and should) target these QBs in 2023 draft

Purdy had to come to the rescue, though, and that worked out well.

Haener might not be on the same trajectory, but he at least has the opportunity to be that unheralded but somehow well-discussed addition at the most important position.

Backup quarterbacks, especially rookie ones, somehow always find themselves to be popular among the fanbase.

Maybe Haener will be the next case study.

Next. 2023 mock NFL Draft after free agency fallout. dark