Cerebral Leader Bolstering Chances to Join 49ers Secondary: Analyst

Since 2020, one university north of the San Francisco 49ers has created a strong defensive back pipeline. But could this be the draft where the Niners take in someone from the University of California?

Safety Daniel Scott has been climbing up boards following pre-draft visits and following his Thursday, March 23 Pro Day work in Berkeley. Now, Scott got nfl.com draft expert Chad Reuter placing him as one of the top draft picks for the Niners at No. 101 in his updated mock draft released on Friday, March 24.

Scott has another believer in 49ers insider Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group, who wrote how Scott’s Pro Day bolstered his case for the 49ers on Thursday.

Scott Emerged as Cerebral Captain Among the Original ‘Takers’

When Cal gravitated to more of a defensive identity after hiring Justin Wilcox to replace Sonny Dykes, the secondary began going under this moniker helped created by new defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander: The “Takers.”

They became a collection of defensive backs who started to become one of the nation’s leaders in interceptions while also, for a period of 17 consecutive quarters, didn’t allow a single touchdown pass from the end of 2018 to Week 3 of 2019. And it was a crew featuring future NFL talent named Ashtyn Davis (New York Jets), Cam Bynum (Minnesota Vikings), Jaylinn Hawkins (Atlanta Falcons) and Elijah Hicks (Chicago Bears).

Scott, though, was one of the first members of “The Takers,” as part of Wilcox’s first recruiting class. Over time, he became one of the more cerebral defenders and worked his way to team captain. Scott earned his starts by showing off impressive range as seen here:

Cal’s Daniel Scott is no longer a “sleeper” after impressive @seniorbowl and elite Combine testing (RAS 9 out 882).

NFL teams looking for FS help know Scott isn’t flying under radars anymore.

Checkout range from oppo hash here: 👀#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️ https://t.co/1akQNPtsuy pic.twitter.com/N3SCoCNTnQ

— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 15, 2023

He then showed his ability to close on throws, as seen here versus a high-powered USC offense from the 2022 season.

#Cal versatile safety Daniel Scott is a player flying under the radar who could have a big Senior Bowl week.

Played all over — as 2 high safety, rotating as a single high, and at nickel. Fluid enough to cover from the slot, instinctive enough to make plays in deep halves. pic.twitter.com/0aTMCfofEV

— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) January 24, 2023

But Scott was also tasked to play in multiple alignments in the Golden Bears’ defense. Scott always answered the call and became a leader by example in the process. Then in Mobile, Alabama, he proved he can challenge wide receivers one-on-one:

In what most NFL teams view as thin safety class, especially when it comes to FS skill-sets, one guy who’s been flying under way too many radars is Cal’s Daniel Scott.

He had him good Friday night in Indy.

40-yd: 4.45 (2nd best)
BJ: 10-8 (4th)
VJ: 39.5 (5th)
3-cone: 6.75 (1st) pic.twitter.com/nbWifTEXYH

— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 4, 2023

While Scott said he “briefly” met with the 49ers at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine per Steph Sanchez of SB Nation, he really elevated his chances to get on the 49ers’ draft board with S.F. having representatives in attendance at Pro Day in Berkeley.

#Cal #proday star attraction Daniel Scott is a smart, quick safety who’s drawn attention of #49ers and many others ahead of next month’s #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/gpVhaOiSun

— Cam Inman (@CamInman) March 23, 2023

Scott Would be Older Than a Quartet of 49ers DBs if Drafted

Though he’s in the process of experiencing the NFL as a rookie, he’s no ordinary first-year player. He’s a 25-year-old prospect.

If he were on the 49ers roster at the moment, he would be older than four members of the 49ers DB room — including Pro Bowler Talanoa Hufanga (23) and playoff standout Deommodore Lenoir (also 23). But Scott would add to the Pac-12 representation already in the 49ers secondary.

And with his age, Scott will already come in mature beyond his years. He’s already been a captain and defensive leader. Plus his speed and work ethic is already winning over NFL teams.

For a 49ers defense that’s still seeking safety depth as well as special teams help, the local prospect is beginning to emerge as a mid-round possibility for a team that doesn’t pick until the third round. And this could finally be the season a member of Cal’s “Takers” stays local.

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