Charlotte 49ers football coach Brad Lambert said it won’t take long for him to name a starting quarterback.
“Two weeks, that’s probably our target date,” Lambert said Saturday during the 49ers’ media day, which was held one day after the 49ers’ first preseason practice. “We want to see how these guys compete and how they learn the system.”
Three players are competing for the starting spot - senior and returning starter Hasaan Klugh, redshirt freshman Chris Reynolds and junior Evan Shirreffs, a transfer from Miami.
Whichever quarterback wins the job, he will be playing in a different system from last season, when the 49ers went 1-11 and finished at or near the bottom of nearly every offensive category in Conference USA. New offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery, coming from Football Championship Subdivision power Youngstown State, has installed an offense that will mix a pro style with the spread.
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“We’re going to build what we do best around whatever quarterback wins the job does best,” said Montgomery, a former quarterback at N.C. State. “We’ve got everything in the offense that you can possibly imagine. We’ve got every spread imaginable and a lot of pro style. If we were running a true spread offense, we’d need a running quarterback and that’s not for everybody. We want to get the ball to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. We can build around whomever the quarterback is.”
Klugh is the incumbent and started 11 games last season. Not efficient as a passer (he completed 48.3 percent of his throws), he was dangerous as a runner (342 yards rushing and seven touchdowns).
Reynolds had a strong spring practice and was solid in the 49ers’ spring game, completing 8-of-11 passes for 73 yards. But he’s never played a down of a true college game.
Shirreffs is the wild card, coming to Charlotte after playing as a backup for two seasons for the Hurricanes.
At 6-foot-5, Shirreffs - who has two seasons of eligibility - describes himself as a pocket passer who is pretty mobile.
“I like the offense; it’s a big reason I came here,” Shirreffs said. “I don’t know if this is really a true pro-style offense, but it’s more pro style than most offenses in this day and age.”
Montgomery has an open mind.
“Those three are the top three guys,” Montgomery said. “We’ll try and get those guys as many reps as we can. My thing is to get each one with different groups, not just the (starters or backups) all the time. We want to mix it up with each guy getting a shot with the better players. I like our talent there.”
More QB news: True freshman quarterback Brady Pope (South Iredell High) will likely redshirt. ... Brooks Barden, a 49ers quarterback from 2014-17 who still had another season of eligibility left, is still with the program as a graduate assistant ... Sophomore Joe Thompson, who came to Charlotte as a quarterback, has switched to wide receiver ... Redshirt freshman Willie Green is the son of former Carolina Panthers receiver Willie Green Sr. ... Freshman Dylan Ratliff is the son of former 49ers assistant coach Phil Ratliff, who died in 2015 ... Mic Roof, a freshman last season, has left the program.
Banks to NASCAR: Former 49ers defensive lineman Brandon Banks, who spent last season with Washington in the NFL, has been selected for NASCAR’s Driver For Diversity pit crew program.
Kicking help? Freshman Jonathan Cruz said a 55-yard field goal he kicked last season was a school record at Cartersville (Ga.) High. “Kicking is natural to me,” he said. “Pressure is really nothing to me. I can hit from 55 and anything in from there. It just depends on how I’m feeling that day.”
Pads coming: The 49ers will practice for the first time in pads Sunday as they prepare for their season opener Sept. 1 against Fordham. “It’s been two days in shorts,” new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, answering a question about his early take on the preseason. “But we can see how we’ve been picking up on assignments and I’m pleased with our retention from the spring.”