The 49ers, who drafted a quarterback early in the second round in 2011, appear to be eying another passer who could be taken in that round. Jim Harbaugh, whose draft expertise is quarterbacks, attended Northwestern's pro day today where Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo worked out.
Garoppolo (6-2 ¼, 226 pounds) looked good at both the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl, and there has been a buzz around him for the last month and half. The Chicago Tribune reported that both the 49ers and the Texans, who have the first pick in the draft, put Garoppolo through a private workout today.
From the 2011 draft period, when the 49ers selected Colin Kaepernick, we know that Harbaugh likes quarterbacks who are athletic, accurate, smart and good leaders. Garoppolo fits that description, although his athleticism is not close to Kaepernick's.
He also compares well to another former Eastern Illinois passer, Tony Romo, which should ring a bell for long-time Harbaugh watchers. When he was a lowly assistant with the Raiders in 2002 and 2003, Harbaugh famously wrote reports about the quarterbacks in those drafts. He gave two highly considered passers, Joey Harrington and David Carr, low grades. And he gave two lightly considered players high grades. One of them was Romo.
The 49ers, meanwhile, have just one backup quarterback, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, under contract for 2014. Kaepernick's backup for 2013, Colt McCoy, will become a free agent next week. The 49ers have the 30th pick in the first round and two picks in the second, Nos. 56 and 61.
Another quarterback at Northwestern's pro day is Kain Colter, who is moving to wide receiver, another position of need for San Francisco. Colter, who compares to players like Hines Ward and Arnaz Battle, is likely to go in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
-- Matt Barrows