Former Stanford center Chase Beeler, who wasn’t selected in April’s NFL Draft, was in a peculiar position this morning.
Beeler was in a room with a group of 49ers offensive linemen that included Joe Staley and Adam Snyder, a duo with a combined 10 years of NFL experience, but it was Beeler doing the teaching.
What’s up with that? Beeler recently met Staley in downtown Palo Alto and they agreed it would be beneficial to both parties if Beeler visited during this week’s minicamp.
Beeler, who will sign as a rookie free agent after the lockout, would get a chance to work out with NFL linemen who could be his future teammates. The 49ers coaching staff is obviously familiar with the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Beeler, a first-team AP All-American this past season who could help the Niners at a position presently surrounded by question marks.
In return, Beeler could give something valuable to the Niners: information.
“I thought it would be good for him work out with some NFL guys and also he has history with this playbook,” Staley said. “… He has a history with the coaching staff, and (Jim) Harbaugh and it’s the same kind of offense that they ran (at Stanford). So he’s familiar with all the calls and how they ran things and he can clarify things for us.”
Below is a Q&A with Beeler from today. Worth noting, he mentions more than once how the offensive staff at Stanford made significant week-to-week changes. That is, they tailored the game plan to best attack the opposing defense – a sneaky little tactic not always employed, at least not obviously, this past season in San Francisco.
Also, if you think Beeler sounds smart, there’s a reason for that. As an undergraduate, he had a GPA around 3.8 and he’s currently working on his master’s degree in history with a concentration on Eastern Europe and Russia. Staley said Beeler reminded him of 49ers center Eric Heitmann, another brainy Stanford alum:
Q: In the past some of the 49ers have said they had the plays, but didn’t know which were going to be emphasized. Can you help them with that?
CB: I can to a certain extent. I can emphasize those plays that we emphasized at Stanford. If the coaching staff keeps the same mentality, the type of plays and the scheme they run on any week is going to depend upon the defense we face off against. I can give them an idea of what things are going to look like in real time.
Q: Players have said there’s a lot of guesswork involved in interpreting the playbook. For example, they may not know what personnel packages come in with different plays. Can you help clarify something like that?
CB: Again, I can tell them what my experience was at Stanford in terms of pairings of plays, particular packages that you might see – a power paired with a particular pass or what have you. But still I have to assume the circumstances in which they’re implementing the playbook are a little different at the next level in the NFL. So there’s going to be some variance there. I’m sure a certain percentage of whatever I’m able to tell them is ultimately going to be useful, but I don’t know I’m able to give them some kind of grand insight that’s going to bring the whole offense together.
Q: Stanford ran so much motion, some of which you can’t run in the NFL. How much do you think the 49ers might use?
CB: It’s hard to say. The stuff they’re working on right are the very basics. That sort of stuff is more advanced and, again, it’s something that at Stanford we did on a weekly basis. It’s very ad hoc. We would develop a particular shift or a particular series of plays based on the defense that we were going to see that week. So I trust the innovativeness and ingenuity of (offensive coordinator Greg) Roman and those guys. I’m sure they’ll come up with something that hasn’t been seen before.
Q: So the 49ers were really picking your brain today?
CB: Yeah, I’m just trying to help out with clarifying this series of calls, what other particular looks you might see in this set of pass protections, things like that. I know they do have a couple of playbooks and have some idea of what they’re going to be running. But things aren’t always so clear when translated into real life.
Q: Was it a weird dynamic – explaining things to guys like Staley?
CB: Yeah, it’s put me on the other side of the page a little bit, I guess. Maybe it will take me into coaching at some point.
Q: Where do you see yourself playing in the pros (Beeler played guard as a redshirt sophomore)?
CB: I think center just based on my size. That seems like the natural slot for me. But obviously at this level if you’re going to play, you’re going to have to play multiple positions. So at least mentally, I would think, I would have to be prepared to play guard as well.