Jared Goff’s pro day was a victory even before he stepped on the field.
The Cal quarterback’s hands, which made headlines last month for their less-than-ideal size, somehow grew 1/8 inch over the last three weeks.
“They got me a new measuring tape that’s made for small-handed people,” Goff joked to reporters after his throwing session Friday.
Still, some prominent observers needed more convincing that Goff’s grip – his hands measured 9 1/8 inches Friday – won’t be an issue.
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After Goff threw 69 scripted passes, an assistant with the Cleveland Browns gave Goff an unscripted obstacle. The assistant doused the football with water and asked Goff to make a few deep passes with the type of slick ball he might encounter in the upper Midwest in November.
“It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow and it’s different,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said at the NFL scouting combine last month when asked about hand size. “I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations.”
Goff threw 96 touchdown passes in three seasons at Cal, but he also had 23 fumbles.
Cleveland picks second in next month’s draft, needs a quarterback and is eying Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, whose hands measured 10 inches last month. Jackson and a handful of Browns assistants made the trip west to watch Goff.
“Yeah, growing up in California, they probably wanted to see that,” said Goff, who is from Novato. “That makes sense. But at the same time, I’ve played in cold weather before. I wouldn’t be the first quarterback to go from California to cold weather. I think Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have done pretty well.”
Like Green Bay’s Rodgers, who also played at Cal, Goff grew up as a 49ers fan. He wore No. 16 in honor of former 49ers great Joe Montana and attended the final game at Candlestick Park, a victory linebacker NaVorro Bowman sealed with an 89-yard interception return.
The 49ers, who pick seventh, are another team that could land Goff, especially if they trade Colin Kaepernick.
Like the Browns, the 49ers had a large contingent of scouts and coaches in Berkeley. Head coach Chip Kelly and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day stood 12 yards behind Goff as he went through his workout.
It wasn’t a perfect performance.
Goff connected on 61 of his 69 passes, with two drops. He seemed tentative on some throws, and others wobbled. But some passes were excellent, especially a handful of deep, 40-plus-yard throws down the sideline that landed softly in his receivers’ hands.
Goff, who took nearly all his snaps from the shotgun formation at Cal, wanted to show NFL scouts he also could drop back and roll out from center.
“I felt pretty comfortable with it after a week or two,” he said of his predraft work. “It’s obviously going to be a transition with real players out there. But under center, I felt really good and really comfortable with it right away. It felt pretty natural to me.”
Goff said he chatted only briefly with Kelly on Friday and talked with the 49ers and Browns at the combine. Goff likely will be invited to San Francisco’s “local” pro day next month, but like most of the prospects from bigger area schools, only will meet with coaches and not work out.
Note– One of Goff’s targets was running back Daniel Lasco, who looked good as a receiver out of the backfield. Tom Rathman, the 49ers’ running backs coach, put Lasco and fellow Cal running back Brendan Bigelow through a workout on Friday. The Raiders and Colts also worked out Lasco.