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Texans, 49ers work out QB Garoppolo

The SportsXchange

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was at Northwestern on Tuesday to work out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the record-setting FCS player of the year at Eastern Illinois.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, in his trademark khakis and team-logo sleeved top, also conducted a private workout with Garoppolo.

Both coaches left campus before the official Northwestern pro day workouts began.

O'Brien, who was on hand for Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald's stellar showing Monday, undoubtedly will be making the rounds to see the top-ranked quarterbacks in this 2014 draft. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville, March 17, Blake Bortles (UFC, March 19) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M, March 27) all will participate in campus workouts -- Manziel is working out with wide receiver Mike Evans but not at A&M's pro day -- to prove they should be the first overall pick.

The Texans are very much in the market.

While O'Brien has been strongly linked to Bortles, Bridgewater is considered the top pro-style passer in the draft. Manziel, who dared the Texans to pass on him, isn't an ideal fit but O'Brien has also said he prides himself on the ability to create a game-plan offense that doesn't typecast players into niche roles.

Garoppolo is not in the mix to be drafted first overall. He could get consideration if the Texans trade down or draft a defensive end, outside linebacker or offensive tackle in the first round.

Garoppolo graduated from a shotgun offense and is praised for his quick release and cerebral approach to the position. His former offensive coordinator said Garoppolo could diagram every offensive player's assignment on every play and their situational adjustments.

A team not sold on Fresno State's Derek Carr because of his penchant for going scattershot when the pocket buckles might prefer Garoppolo but in some order, both quarterbacks project to come off the board between picks 20-40.

Matt Schaub remains on the Houston roster and Case Keenum could also get an extended audition under O'Brien, who has tutored Tom Brady but also Matt Cassel -- noteworthy because he is a free agent, opting out of a second-year option with the Vikings -- and Brian Hoyer, the former Michigan State product who showed flashes of being a competitive starter with the Cleveland Browns before an ACL tear last season.

The 49ers could use insurance behind Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco investing a second-round pick at quarterback might surprise a few fellow general managers, but Harbaugh played the position and repeated last month that there is no more important position.

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