Former Fresno State players Jake Haener, Jordan Mims and Nikko Remigio took part in the 49ers local pro day. Covering the day in the Bay Area was SF beat reporter for The Athletic David Lombardi (Visalia native) who caught up with Action News to discuss the ex-Bulldogs draft potential.
Stephen Hicks: Joined now with David Lombardi, The Athletic beat reporter for the San Francisco 49ers, on the field minutes after the local pro day. Why, don't we start with just how these guys got an invite, and the quality of guys that you saw there today.
David Lombardi: Well, the bay area has a lot of good football talent, either through guys who grew up in this area and played high school football here or through all the colleges in the area. So obviously Jake Haener was here today. He grew up in the East Bay, went to high school out there, and then played for Fresno State. So Haener, I think, was one of the headlining attractions. Today everybody's talking about the 49ers potentially adding another quarterback on draft weekend, and people are mentioning Jake Haener's name because he made some waves at Fresno State with a toughness that he showed. I still remember that game against UCLA, a couple of seasons back, where he just really willed the Bulldogs to victory at the Rose Bowl. So there was talent here. Tanner McKee, the quarterback from Stanford, then obviously some other Fresno State players running back Jordan Mims and receiver Nikko Remigio who played some college football for Cal before he transferred to Fresno State. So it was fun to see some of those guys running through the drills out on the field.
Stephen Hicks: So you mentioned that Jake Haener is one of the top prospects out there, and he keeps getting this comparison to Brock Purdy. And I think he's, just based on body language, kind of getting tired of that. Do you see that as a legit comparison?
David Lombardi: Well, I think the reason that people are comparing them is because they say, oh, you know, these guys might have slightly limited physical skill sets, and they're not going to be first-round picks, and yet they're still ballers right? They're tough, and they're able to direct the offense. I could see why Jake Haener is upset about it, or may not quite like that comparison because they are different players. I think that Brock Purdy, one of the things that makes Brock pretty really good is actually something that has to do with his physical skill set. He's got an elite 10-yard burst. He can motor out of that pocket with the best of them, even though his 40 time isn't that great. That's an exceptional thing about Brock that we saw this past year. I'm not saying that Haener doesn't have mobility, but to put them in the same bucket I think, kind of ignores some of those differences. Now, Haener some of his anticipatory throws that I saw in college with Fresno State to me just as a pure thrower of the football, I think he's better than Brock Purdy and I think that Jake illustrated it really, really well today. He said that we're different players. We have different strengths. We have different weaknesses, and you know you could leave it at that. Jake Haener is Jake Haener and Brock Purdy is Brock Purdy. I think some of these comparisons end up being a little bit lazy from fans and the media alike.
Stephen Hicks: How much interest do the 49ers have in picking a quarterback in this year's draft?
David Lombardi: Well, I talked to Kyle Shanahan about this at the Nfl. Owners meetings just last week, and your home area of Phoenix. And there, Kyle said, You know what we want to add a fourth quarterback for the off-season, at least, at least for the off-season. Last year they picked up Brock Purdy. With that last selection of the draft, he ended up making the 53-man roster. So if you're in the building, you've got a chance does the stick in the building throughout the course of the regular season, and I think that the 40 owners are serious about picking up a fourth quarterback. You know that they won't have to use the crazy amount of draft capital to do it, because they don't have that really valuable position in the draft. They don't pick until number 99. Jake Haener today said he expects to go between the third and the fifth rounds, so that you know the 49ers have a lot of picks in between the third and the fifth rounds. Maybe that is possible, but long story short. This is a 49er team that 2 months ago ran out of qb's. They had to go through 3 quarterbacks just to make the playoffs, so they need to stock up talent in that room, and that's why that fourth quarterback being added here for the off-season makes a whole lot of sense.
Stephen Hicks: One of the biggest headlines from your reporting today for me, was Jake Haener, revealing that he scored the 97 percentile of what's called the S2 cognitive testing. Can you break down for us just what that means?
David Lombardi: That's something that's not like the Wonderlic, which is, you know more of a smart test. The S2 cognitive testing is a processing test that's becoming more and more popular amongst NFL teams to evaluate QB talent. There they see how quickly you can read and react when obviously pass rushers, and you know distractions are flying at you, and it's it's a way -- they're always trying to quantify how is a certain player going to make the jump from college to the NFL because that it literally is a million dollar question. They don't release the results of this cognitive testing. They keep it confidential, unless, of course, the player releases his own results. The player can say, where he's at, and Jake Haener today, when he was asked about it. very readily volunteered the information that he scored in a 97 percentile of the S2 cognitive testing which would put him right there at the top of this QB draft class. Now, based on my understanding, this Qb class is very strong across the board in S2 cognitive testing, so that makes it even more impressive that Jake Haener is in that 97 percentile. I guess maybe we talked about the comparisons between Jake Haener and Brock Purdy earlier. They probably won't end with this. But Brock Purdy was also above the ninetieth percentile in S2 cognitive testing. So both of these quarterbacks, including one the 49ers picked last year at number 262, Mr. Irrelevant, the final pick of the draft, both he and Jake Haener score really well in this regard, and obviously that does move a needle with the 49ers.
Stephen Hicks: In years past how have the 49ers picked guys from these local pro days? Do they have a history of liking guys from seeing them in their own stadium?
David Lombardi: Well, I think, Josh Hokit was here a couple of years ago at the local pro day, and the 49ers ended up signing him as an undrafted free agent. I think that you know just in general, even if you don't immediately pick or sign a guy that year the 49ers like to have their intelligence on players all around the League, and this is true for the entire draft. You look at all the players so that way 3, 4 years from now, when they become free agents, even if you don't pick them you know what that guy is all about. So this local pro day is a way for the 40 honors to do that, for I think some of the more high profile players, and to also, maybe unearth some diamonds in the rough, because you know, some of these guys don't have 30 visits, which is the 30 scheduled visits that a player can have with an NFL team. Some of these guys are under the radar. They don't have those visits and the 49ers feel that hey? You know, within NFL rules we can invite these guys to the facility, they're local prospects, and maybe we will find somebody that wouldn't otherwise have been discovered.
Stephen Hicks: I couldn't get the thought out of my head seeing Haener wearing the 49ers uniform today just what a story it would be if he was picked by San Francisco right? This Bay Area kid who was overlooked, you spoke about the toughness, where do you see Haener getting picked in this year's draft and what do you think that story would be if it was the 49ers who picked him?
David Lombardi: Jake Haener himself said today that he expects to be picked anywhere between the third and the fifth rounds, and he has more information than either you or I do, just because he's talking to a lot of the teams and the agents and teams will let him know where they think he'll go, and obviously there's probably some chess being played there right there's some positioning going on. But if you know the consensus is in his head after talking to everybody anywhere between the third and fifth round I think that's as good of a guess as anybody would have, so he's going to be a mid-round quarterback. Maybe slides into the later rounds. We'll see it works out, but it'd be hell of a story, you know. Obviously his mom Julie is a news anchor here in the Bay Area, so I mean he (has) visible family here in the Bay Area as has the roots there in the East Bay played for Fresno State, which isn't far away either. I just made that drive yesterday from there to here, so I think it'd be really, really cool, not only for Jake Haener and those Bay area connections, but for people out in Fresno. There are a lot of 49 or spans in Fresno, and they can make the drive over Pacheco Pass here to Levi's Stadium to see a really, really good ex-Bulldogs QB play here for the 49ers.
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