The 49ers had their sights set on draft-worthy quarterbacks Wednesday as coach Jim Harbaugh flew across the country to watch Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas while the team’s quarterbacks coach stayed closer to home for David Fales’ workout.
Fales, who threw for 33 touchdowns for San Jose State last season, let one of his deep passes get away from him. His other 52, however, were on target, bolstering the notion he is one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the draft and worthy of a mid-round selection.
Representatives from more than 20 teams watched Fales and San Jose State’s other prospects. That group included Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst. Three other 49ers scouts also attended, likely because team headquarters is only 11 miles from Spartan Stadium.
Also watching were two former 49ers quarterbacks, Alex Smith, who trains at San Jose State, and Trent Dilfer, an analyst with ESPN. Dilfer tweeted that he thought Fales resembled former Redskins, Rams and Chiefs quarterback Trent Green, who played 15 seasons in the NFL.
Smith’s wife’s family lives in the area, and he spends part of his offseasons here despite playing for the Chiefs. He and Fales trained together last offseason, and they will work with San Jose State strength and conditioning coach Gary Uribe over the next two months.
“So I’m going to be really looking forward to that,” Fales said. “You get to train with someone whose been around the league for a while and knows it – it’s awesome. He’s a great guy, too.”
Fales said he has a private workout scheduled with the Minnesota Vikings this weekend and expects to have more in the coming weeks.
Fales passed for 4,189 yards last season. His most impressive game may have been the season finale against Fresno State when he outdueled Derek Carr, a more heralded quarterback prospect, throwing for six touchdowns and 547 yards in a 62-52 win.
The 49ers traded for Blaine Gabbert last week and have three quarterbacks – Colin Kaepernick, Gabbert and McLeod Bethel-Thompson – on the roster. They could add another in the draft, and their top quarterback scout, Harbaugh, was in Blacksburg, Va., to watch Thomas. The Hokies quarterback has intriguing size – 6-foot-6, 257 pounds – but he has struggled with his accuracy. Thomas threw for 16 touchdowns but was intercepted 13 times last season.
Harbaugh also attended Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s pro day earlier this month and put Garoppolo through a private workout.
The Seminoles are loaded with talent, including wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who play positions at which the 49ers are thin.
At 5-8, Joyner is undersized. But he is tough, aggressive, a team leader and could fill in at the nickel cornerback spot Carlos Rogers played the last three seasons. Joyner likely will be taken in the second round, a round in which the 49ers have two picks.
Benjamin is a possibility in the first round, and he could be someone the 49ers move up to get. He’s got excellent size for a wideout (6-5, 240), with the long arms Baalke covets. He’s not the speedy, slot-receiver complement to Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree the 49ers could use. Instead, he conceivably would be a future replacement for Crabtree or Boldin, whose contracts expire in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Boldin also played at Florida State, and the 49ers view him as the ideal mentor for the young receivers in their locker room. The 49ers drafted two Florida State players last year, Tank Carradine and Nick Moody.
The Gators have a couple of cornerbacks, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, who may interest the 49ers in the middle of the draft.