There’s a nice article in the Chronicle regarding Fresneck State QB Jake Haener. I mentioned this guy a few months ago as a great under-the-radar guy to pick up as our back-up of the future. Problem is, he’s starting to get noticed. He’s starting to get noticed because he bears a resemblance to our one and only Big Cock Brock Purdy. Not sure of Haener’s, uh, dimensions, but he’s 6 foot nothing and weighs 207 lb.
Undersized and unheralded until recently, Haener led the crappy Fresno State program (4-8 before him) to a 23-10 record, and a win over the UCLA Bruins 40-37 with two 4th quarter TD passes, and he also led them to the Mountain West Conference championship and a win over Washington State in the (WTAF?) Jimmy Kimmel Bowl (>?).
Sure, he’s a Danville kid who went to Monte Vista and grew up next to a country club, a la Zack Wilson. He threw those two 4th down TDs with a hip pointer and a torn oblique or some shit. He’s ‘country club tough’ according to his high school coach.
Hey. Who knows? All I do know is we need a viable backup after we trade Lance and dump Darnold after this season. Might as well take a shot on a guy who can be viable as a late 3rd pick. We have 3 of them.
Jake Haener grew up in the tony East Bay town of Danville. His family’s home is shouting distance from Diablo Country Club, so it might be surprising to learn that the scratch golfer and Fresno State quarterback who had a comfortable upbringing is adept at playing through extreme discomfort.
In 2021, Haener, a Monte Vista alum who is a projected third- or fourth-round pick in this week’s NFL draft, had a 455-yard performance in a 40-37 upset win at UCLA that included two TD passes in the final three minutes.
And Haener’s clutch throws were delivered through gritted teeth: He had suffered a late-game hip pointer and strained oblique that required painkilling pre-kickoff shots in the following weeks.
“I couldn’t feel the left side of my body for the next game,” Haener said.
Last season, Haener elevated his draft stock by throwing for 16 touchdowns with two interceptions in the final seven games, all wins, to lead Fresno State to the Mountain West Conference title and a bowl victory.
And Haener was hurting throughout his hot streak. After missing four games, he returned and played on a fractured right ankle that was only 75 percent healed. Haener knew agony was ahead after he was medically cleared six days before his first game back.
“I could barely run that Sunday,” Haener said. “I was like, ‘F—, this is tough.’ ”
Haener knows tough. It’s a quality that has allowed him to persevere despite a lack of size — he’s 6-foot and 207 pounds — and a fair share of pain, on and off the field. After two seasons at Washington, Haener transferred two days after losing a starting-QB battle to Jacob Eason, a 6-foot-6, five-star transfer, in fall camp in 2019.
“A thing I would always tell Jake is that he’s ‘country club tough,’” said Chris Babcock, a former assistant coach at Monte Vista. “And what I was basically saying is, he lives next to a very nice golf course, and he does enjoy golfing. But, man, he is one tough hombre.”
Haener didn’t get this far on grit alone. He’s accurate, ranking first in Fresno State history in completion percentage (68.1 percent), and he is an elite decision-maker. Haener, who didn’t throw an interception in his final 214 passes, recently scored in the 97th percentile on the S2 Cognition test, which gauges the speed at which prospects can process split-second information.
Those attributes, coupled with Haener’s size, have invited plenty of pre-draft comparisons to Brock Purdy. The undersized San Francisco 49ers quarterback, of course, stunned the NFL last year by sporting a 7-0 record in starts he finished after he was the 262nd and final pick of the draft.
Haener, like Purdy, has extensive college playing experience — he made 29 starts and threw 1,085 passes — and the three-year captain helped elevate a program. Fresno State, which went 4-8 before Haener’s first season, went 23-10 in his three years.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout with the Ravens, Browns and Eagles, said a group of QBs that include Haener and BYU’s Jaren Hall (6-0, 207) will likely benefit due to Purdy’s rookie success.
“I think teams are going to place a lot more premium on the traits that (Purdy) possessed,” Jeremiah said. “In terms of accuracy, intelligence, decision-making, and, more than anything else, I think the fact that he has played a lot of football.”
Haener has created his own pre-draft momentum. He was the Senior Bowl MVP in February and has since met with 16 NFL teams, either in person or virtually. Those meetings included a Zoom session with 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese.
Haener enters the draft confident that those discussions helped his cause — “I think they’ve realized that mentally I’m pretty sharp,” he said — and acknowledges that Purdy could also provide a bump.
“He was showing out for the 6-foot quarterbacks,” Haener said. “And I think it’s kind of hot on people’s radar: Maybe some guys with elite processing, a lot of game under their belt, have gone through some things. ‘Hey, maybe some of those guys have a better chance than some of us think.’ ”
Haener credits his parents’ hard-working example for his success. His mom, Julie, is a longtime news anchor at KTVU, and his dad, Ryan, runs a medical supply business. His father often told Haener his lack of size would require that he put in more work to prove himself. Such talks, he said, prevented his surroundings from dulling his drive.
“That’s probably a stereotype that people get coming from Danville and other places in the East Bay,” Haener said. “I never want to ride on what my mom or dad have done. … Yeah, my parents helped me along the way. But I feel like everything I accomplished, I’ve earned. I feel like I’ve had to do it the hard way.”
The hardest part came when Haener left Washington, his dream school that his mom and grandfather attended. He said he was crushed after losing out to Eason, a 2020 fourth-round pick with 10 career NFL pass attempts who spent part of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad.
Haener was convinced that he should have been named the Huskies’ starter. And he set out to prove that at Fresno State, eventually making it his aim to get drafted before pick No. 122, the spot where Eason was selected.
Haener’s transfer led to a tougher road. And despite an upbringing that might suggest otherwise, Haener was built for it.
“When I wasn’t tall enough or strong enough at Washington, they decided to get a guy that was taller and stronger and bigger than me,” Haener said. “I wanted to prove that Washington made the wrong decision. … I could play at a really high level. And I was going to play in the NFL.”
I doubt Haener makes it past rd 2. I think Seattle is gonna clean up in this draft.
He wasn’t on the board 2 months ago. Now he’s a 3rd-4th rounder.
Happy Birthday chuck- I guess it’s official that G0re now is a talent evaluator for the Niners. I think Jed hit the jackpot there. Anyway, I hope we stay put in the draft and grab the late rounders. From what I have read excepting for the few top players the low rounds the late rounds have a bunch of good players. This is where I miss NJ and his evaluations.
Where’s he go?
Haven’t heard from him in while.
I think right now he’s in the draft room and doing whatever they do. It sounds like his job is to feel out the true football desire of players in the draft. In other words he’s grading their heart. At least that is my understanding. I think it’s great because he had some big time heart.
Talking about Gore. I have no idea what NJ is up to.
And thanks! 62 though. Getting ooooold.
Yeah and the fucked up thing about that is time starts moving faster.