B.J. Daniels welcomes playing many roles 

B.J. Daniels is holding several job titles -- quarterback, running back, wide receiver and return specialist -- in his first NFL training camp this summer. But the 49ers' rookie said he just wants to perform one role for the team: contributor.

Daniels, who coach Jim Harbaugh refers to as his "Swiss army knife," might be the most intriguing non-starter on the field for the 49ers as they kickoff the preseason against the Denver Broncos on Thursday. He can return kicks, line up at wide receiver, explode out of the backfield and take snaps at quarterback.

He could do little bit of everything at some point this season, but the 23-year-old says his goal is to help the team.

"The biggest role that I want to take on is contributor," Daniels said. "I really want to contribute any way that I can."

After the 49ers traded Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs in March, they suddenly lacked depth at quarterback with Scott Tolzien being the team's only option after starter Colin Kaepernick.

In April, the team traded for former Cleveland Browns starter Colt McCoy, who is expected to be Kaepernick's backup, and then selected Daniels in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.

"I boo-hoo cried like a baby, I had snot bubbles coming out of my nose," said Daniels, who missed the last three games of his senior year at South Florida because of a broken left ankle. "It was an amazing feeling."

Daniels is a logical fit for several reasons: he ran the read-option in college, setting a school record with 25 rushing touchdowns, his arm strength is in Kaepernick's ballpark and he was recruited to South Florida by 49ers linebackers coach Jim Leavitt.

The 23-year-old also proved he's capable of thriving under pressure when he amassed 314 total yards in 17-7 road upset of No. 18 Florida State in his first college start as a redshirt freshman.

Right now, Daniels is practicing at three positions, but as camp progresses, he's making his case to be the No. 3 quarterback. Some experts believe he'll be the backup by 2014.

"He's doing a pretty darn good job," Harbaugh said. "I think just what we have been doing is more and more quarterback play as the days go by and he's showing a good grasp of the offense. Arrow up there."

Daniels said he bonded with Kaepernick immediately over their shared fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and he plans to absorb what he can from the versatile signal-caller, who was in his position just two summers ago.

"We talk all the time," he said. "It's been pretty cool to be able to connect [over our fraternity] and have conversations and talk about that."

At this point, Daniels is trying to be a sponge, attending meetings for multiple positions and learning as much as he can from players like Kaepernick, Frank Gore and Anquan Boldin. He's eager to contribute wherever he can, but eventually he hopes to settle down and find a home under center.

"[Quarterback is] something I love to play and something I love doing. Just got to work at it and continue to get better," he said.

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Paul Gackle

Paul Gackle

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