Spread schmed: Harbaugh more concerned about DNA

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford played in a spread offense in college. So did Cleveland’s Colt McCoy. And don’t forget Denver’s Tim Tebow.

That trio fared relatively well as rookies in 2010 and its performance suggests the leap from the spread to an NFL offense isn’t as daunting as some believe.

Count Jim Harbaugh in the it’s-no-big-deal camp.

In recent months, Harbaugh has no doubt watched reams of film of Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Auburn’s Cam Newton, all spread quarterbacks. And then there’s Colin Kaepernick, who wasn’t under center in Nevada’s Pistol offense.

On Wednesday, Harbaugh said he’d more or less arrived at this conclusion: If a quarterback has the right stuff it probably doesn’t matter if he never took a snap from under center in college.

“The more I watch it, I don’t know how big of a deal that really is,” Harbaugh said. “I think there’s a lot of factors that go into playing quarterback—learning to play from under center and take a drop, I think, is something that quarterbacks can figure out. If they’ve got it in their DNA to be a quarterback, they’ll figure out how to go from the shotgun to the center.”

So how does Harbaugh know if a 21-year-old is programmed to be a quarterback? How can he get dialed-in to their DNA? By talking football with him? By having him break down plays on a whiteboard?

“I don’t think there’s any one way to know if a guy’s going to be a Pro Bowl quarterback, even a starting quarterback,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors. And I certainly am not professing to have all the answers. You try the best you can.”

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