49ers rookie quarterback Daniels returns punts, kicks

Published: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 1:22 pm

SANTA CLARA – B.J. Daniels played only quarterback at South Florida.

Good quarterbacks, however, make sure they're prepared, and Daniels figured it would be a good idea to diversify in the months before the draft.

Daniels, a seventh-round draft pick by the 49ers, rounded up the school's punter and worked on his return skills throughout the spring.

That preparation came in handy at the end of Friday's initial 49ers rookie minicamp practice when Daniels – he and Nate Montana are the only two rookies playing quarterback this weekend – was told to join a group of wide receivers and defensive backs taking turns at punt and kick returns.

Daniels didn't look out of place.

"I'm comfortable with my hands and, like I said, anything I can do to help out is what I'm going to do," he said Saturday, adding that he prepared himself for punt returns this spring "just to keep my options open."

That versatility probably is Daniels' ticket to making the 49ers' roster this summer.

He'll compete with Scott Tolzien to be the No. 3 quarterback behind Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy.

But the team also is seeking players who can handle punt and kick returns after Ted Ginn signed with the Panthers in free agency. Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter likely are the front-runners for both duties, but both players are coming off season-ending injuries suffered Nov. 25.

At 5-foot-11, Daniels looks more like a running back than a quarterback, and he took a few handoffs early in the team's last two practices. However, he worked solely with the quarterbacks – and coach Jim Harbaugh – during the position and team portions of the sessions.

Daniels said his biggest challenge hasn't been tracking punts.

Instead, it's the 49ers' voluminous playbook, which he called "a good read."

"Right now, I'm just trying to make sure I know how to tie my shoes and walk correctly," he said.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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