In seeking a quarterback to compete with Scott Tolzien for the backup role to Colin Kaepernick this off-season, the 49ers may reach all the way back to the 2009 draft.
Pat White, a former West Virginia standout, was the 44th overall pick of that NFL draft class by the Miami Dolphins, but was released after the team’s training camp in 2010. He then tried his hand at baseball for a while in the Kansas City Royals organization before deciding to take another shot at football.
White, 27, was a terrific player at West Virginia, a double threat as a passer and runner in the Mountaineers’ read-option offense. Now that the 49ers use a similar offense with Kaepernick, it appears San Francisco is interested in taking a longer look at White, thinking he may be a good fit to compete for a job against Tolzien.
USA Today’s Jim Corbett has reported that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh called White to set up a private workout after White, 27, worked out for NFL coaches at a recent Pro Day at West Virginia.
“Coach and I had a conversation about me coming in to work out,” White told Corbett. “We haven’t set up a formal date. I’m just going to make sure I keep working hard for when that day comes.
“I pay attention to how his players react to Coach Harbaugh. They all want to win for hm. And he seems to treat them how they want to be treated. I’m excited to get to know him on that level, if I do get the opportunity. I’m very optimistic about making it back to the NFL.”
According to Corbett, White recently spent a month in California working with quarterback technician George Whitfield Jr., who has helped many college and NFL quarterbacks achieve success. Before last season, for instance, Whitfield worked with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy.
“I got calls from five NFL teams interested in how he was doing,” Whitfield told USA Today in an earlier story. “And I met with two teams at the scouting combine and had another three other teams call wanting to see his training films.
“He’s a young 27. He’s like a young, 2009 sports car with just 4,500 miles on it. He’s been working his butt off. And his mindset is to show he’s an ‘any-system’ quarterback.”
With Miami, White played sparingly, but did play in the team’s Wildcat offense. In his rookie season he suffered a severe concussion, played in 13 games, was 0-for-5 passing and carried the ball 21 times for 81 yards.
After attempting a baseball career, White decided he still has a passion for football, and is giving it his best shot. Now that the read-option has become the hot new thing in the league, he may now have the skill set to have interested suitors, such as the 49ers.
“I’m pretty certain I’ll be in somebody’s uniform next year, whether it’s the NFL or the Canadian Football League. I’m excited about that,” he said.
Ever since signing Tolzien from the Chargers before the 2011 season, the Niners have said they’ve liked what they’ve seen. But it’s the Niners’ way to bring in players to compete for jobs in training camp, so the addition of White – as well as perhaps an addition via the draft – is plausible.
White, an excellent athlete familiar with the read-option, is an intriguing possibility.