Jim Harbaugh was surprisingly candid Saturday when asked about the likelihood of Alex Smith re-signing with the 49ers.
But the Niners’ chatty coach had to be more restrained when discussing another quarterback he’d like to have on the roster. In a brief informal session after his post-draft press conference, Harbaugh said there was a specific undrafted quarterback he was interested in signing to a free-agent contract.
Due to the lockout, he couldn’t reveal a name, but there are some clues suggesting the mystery man could be former Louisville quarterback Adam Froman from Santa Rosa.
I spoke to Froman on Sunday (here’s the newspaper story) and he said the 49ers, Falcons and Dolphins contacted him (or his agent) during the final rounds of the draft and said they were interested in drafting him. The Niners contacted Froman several times before the draft, but did not conduct a personal workout or bring him in for a visit.
Froman said he thinks Saturday’s late-round calls could have been inspired by the lockout. You know, since NFL teams couldn’t speak with potential free agents after the draft, they made some calls while contact was still allowed.
“Whether they were trying to really draft me or not, it was showing me that they were interested,” Froman said. “So that when they do offer a free-agent contract, if they do, then I’m like, ‘OK, well these guys were interested me in the draft so I should go there.’ I think that’s more of what that was than an actual hey-we’re-going-to-draft-you phone call.”
Based on the post-draft comments of general manager Trent Baalke, it appears Froman, who graduated with a 3.83 GPA, gets an A for analysis.
Baalke was asked if he was able to make free-agent calls during the draft.
His response: “All we were doing during the draft was calling guys to let them know we had a lot of picks at the back end of the draft. And we were trying to gauge the enthusiasm that these guys may have for being a 49er. As far as talking about free agency and all that moving forward, no.”
NFL teams generally call players during the draft to take them with their next pick, not take their temperature. Do you think the 49ers dialed up Aldon Smith to gauge his enthusiasm?
• The strong-armed 6-foot-4, 219-pound Froman is light on experience and missed 10 games in two seasons at Louisville due to three separate injuries (back, oblique, thigh). He only had 15 Division I starts, but he appears to have many of the qualities Harbaugh wants in a quarterback.
In fact, if Colin Kaepernick is Cam Newton Light, Froman might be Colin Kaepernick Extra Light. OK, since he wasn’t drafted, how about Extra, Extra Light?
Athleticism? At his pro day, Froman ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.55 seconds, which would have ranked third among quarterbacks at the NFL Combine (he wasn’t invited). His times in the three-cone drill (6.6 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.08) would have ranked first.
Smarts? There is that 3.83 GPA (Froman said he didn’t know what he scored on his Wonderlic, but answered 44 questions).
Does he work hard? Does he love football? Louisville offensive coordinator Mike Sanford knows a little about Harbaugh’s passion for the game. Sanford was the Chargers wide receivers coach when Harbaugh played in San Diego from 1999-2000.
“Adam will grind as much or more as Jim Harbaugh,” Sanford said in March. “… Adam is right up the alley as far as what Jim is looking for in a quarterback.”
Froman conceded Sunday that he’ll enter his first NFL training camp with a chip on his shoulder.
“If a team takes a chance on me they’re not going to be sorry,” he said. “I’m going to work harder than anyone else out there and I’m going to earn myself a spot.”
• Froman grew up as a 49ers fan, but said he won’t make any decisions with his heart.
“From a fan’s perspective, yeah, the Niners would be my ultimate place to be,” he said. “But I can’t look at it as a fan right now. This is a job and this is a business. This is my career at stake here. So I have to look at it from a very objective, black-and-white perspective. What’s the best business decision for me?”