Haener brushes aside obvious comparisons to 49ers QB Purdy

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Jake Haener’s dream since he was 8 years old was to play quarterback in the NFL.

“I always told my dad, ‘I’m going to the NFL,’ ” Haener said Wednesday after taking part in the 49ers’ local pro day at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

“And he told me that first time, ’It’s one in a million.’ And I feel like I’m going to be one in a million here.”

Haener capped his career at Fresno State with 53 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions over his final two seasons. While on the circuit of visiting with NFL teams during draft season, he has learned he will most likely be a third- or fourth-round draft pick.

He certainly will get a chance to play in the NFL, all right.

Haener measures in at 5-foot-11 5/8, which is not ideal height for a draft prospect. But times and opinions have changed around the NFL. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the anticipated No. 1 overall pick, is barely 5-foot-10.

Haener is supremely confident his height will not stand in the way of his realizing his dream and carving out a lengthy NFL career.

“There’s evidence that people can do it, so why not me?” Haener said. “I’m another guy coming through the pipeline and I feel like my traits can stack up with all of them.

“I’m not scared to compete. I’m not scared to go in a room that has people who’ve played. I want to go in and learn, keep my mouth shut and be as consistent as possible and show an organization what I can do for them.”

Haener is not too fond of the constant comparisons to 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. He is quick to point out they are different people and different players with different quarterback skill sets.

But there also are some striking similarities, such their processing skills as exemplified by their extraordinary scores on the S2 Cognition test. Haener revealed he scored in the 97th percentile.

Purdy was the 262nd and final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. He took over as the 49ers’ starter in early December when Jimmy Garoppolo was injured, and the 49ers went on to win eight consecutive games with him behind center.

Purdy (6-foot and 5/8) defied the odds during his rookie season to put himself in a position to remain as the 49ers’ starting quarterback after his recovery from offseason elbow surgery.

“But that’s the thing: People can go measure things with the big, tall, strong guys who can throw the ball great and throw it out of the stadium," Haener said. "But at the end of the day, you got to go win football games and put the ball where it’s supposed to be, and you got to make the right decisions. And you got to protect the football.

"Brock does all those things really well, at a very high level and I don’t think there’s any reason he can’t be successful for years to come.”

Trey Lance and Sam Darnold currently are the 49ers’ only quarterbacks capable of practicing. The club can be expected to add a rookie to the mix for the offseason program and training camp.

Haener said he has been on a couple of video calls with 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese. He felt good about how well he threw the ball Wednesday with coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in attendance.

However, it seems the 49ers might not be willing to invest in a quarterback in the area of the draft where Haener is likely to be chosen.

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In addition to the intangible qualities of Haener, it was quite clear watching him inside Levi’s Stadium, he throws a tight spiral and exhibited pinpoint accuracy even while throwing to wide receivers with whom he was unfamiliar.

“I think I can spin the ball just as good as anyone in this class, and I can throw it just as accurate,” Haener said. “But that’s not for me to decide. That’s for the evaluators to decide at the end of the day.

“But I think wherever I get drafted in the third, fourth, fifth round, I’m going to get a chance somewhere and if I spin the ball like I can, I don’t think there’s any way or reason why I can’t succeed at this level.”

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