Former South Florida QB B.J. Daniels could be used at wide receiver, running back or as a kick or punt returner with the 49ers. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The odds are stacked against B.J. Daniels.
The former South Florida quarterback, a seventh-round choice of the 49ers in April’s NFL draft, enters the start of team organized activities (OTA) workouts Tuesday buried on the depth chart of a team stocked with talent.
As a quarterback, he’s behind starter Colin Kaepernick and backups Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien. As a receiver, kick returner and running back – where the 49ers say they will give him a shot to show what he can do – he’s also on the bad end of a numbers game.
Yet as OTAs begin, Daniels ranks as one of the more interesting stories among rookies fighting for a job. He was a four-year starter and winner at South Florida and has great athletic ability. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh has referred to him as a potential “Swiss Army knife” who could fill multiple roles. A player as versatile as Daniels could be an impact player on special teams and allow the 49ers to keep another player or two, if they believe Daniels can contribute in several areas.
After the 49ers took Daniels, Harbaugh said: “He’s a tremendous athlete with great foot quickness, strong arm, two-time captain. I think we’re fishing out of a good pool there, that he’ll be able to contribute to this football team.”
His best bet to make the roster may be as a kick or punt returner. He’s spent time this spring fielding punts at South Florida, and he looked comfortable at rookie minicamp recently taking punt and kick returns.
“I’m comfortable with my hands and, like I said, anything I can do to help out is what I’m going to do, just to keep my options open,” Daniels recently told Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
With Kaepernick the locked-in starter at quarterback and McCoy the presumed No. 2, that would leave Daniels battling Tolzien for the No. 3 job – a prospect that seems unlikely, given the fact the team has invested two years in Tolzien, and likes his abilities as a pocket passer.
But if Daniels can begin showing his ability to field punts, catch passes and run the ball out of the backfield – beginning in OTAs and through this summer – the rookie could prove valuable.
He says he’s ready for the challenge.
“Honestly, I’m just doing what it takes to make the team,” he said. “Whatever is asked of me, that’s what I’m trying to do.”