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Jim Harbaugh: David Fales a top-five quarterback in 2014 draft

  • By Daniel Kim NFL.com
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There's a consensus on the top four quarterbacks in this year's draft: Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr (in no particular order, of course). But who rounds out the top five?

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has a bit of an unconventional choice. Not AJ McCarron. Not Jimmy Garoppolo. Not Aaron Murray. Harbaugh says it's San Jose State's David Fales.

"I'm a big fan," Harbaugh said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "My personal evaluation of this class has David in the top five."

Fales worked out at the 49ers' training facility in Santa Clara on Friday along with a handful of other local prospects. He is generally regarded as a third-day pick, although NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has said a case could be made for Fales to go as early as the third round.

Jeremiah said he liked Fales' accuracy as a passer and believes he could succeed in an offense that relies more on rhythm and timing than on the deep ball. But Harbaugh said he doesn't have a problem with Fales' perceived lack of arm strength.

"You see a very compact throwing motion today, more compact than I saw during his career," he said. "But he was still throwing the ball 50, 55 yards downfield, throwing the deep comebacks, the outside lanes like he threw in college, easily, accurately and on a line. We talked a little after the workout. I don't see any deficiencies that way."

The highlight of Fales' 2013 season might have come Nov. 29, when he outdueled Carr in a 62-52 victory over Fresno State. Fales went 37-of-45 passing for 547 yards with six touchdown tosses and zero interceptions.

That shining moment was one of the things 49ers GM Trent Baalke mentioned Friday in praising Fales.

"I like a lot of things about David," Baalke said. "He's very composed. He's a very smart football player. You look at him statistically, he's won a lot of games. He won a shootout at Fresno, which I happened to be at.

"He's got good arm talent. He can make all the throws. He's very accurate, especially in the short to intermediate game. There's a lot to like about him."

The 49ers recently sent a sixth-round pick to Jacksonville for Blaine Gabbert, who is expected to be the team's No. 2 quarterback behind starter Colin Kaepernick. There are bigger positional needs to address early in the draft, but could Fales be an option for the team as a potential Day 3 pick? If Fales drops to the seventh round, as NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt predicts, the 49ers have three picks there, at Nos. 242, 243 and 245 overall.

If Harbaugh really sees Fales as a top-five QB, one would think it's a real possibility.

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