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Top draft pick joins Niners

July 31, 1997

ROCKLIN, Calif. (AP) _ Jim Druckenmiller got to practice early and stayed late Thursday. The San Francisco 49ers’ top draft pick has some catching up to do.

``It’s a little new because this is my first camp and they’re already halfway through it, so it was a mind-boggling experience at times for me,″ Druckenmiller said. ``I know I’m definitely behind but I’ve been really studying my notes (from minicamp). I think I was able to remain a little bit in tune.″

Druckenmiller, who threw for 34 touchdowns while going 20-4 as the starter at Virginia Tech, agreed to terms Wednesday night, just hours after Steve Young was signed to a six-year, $45 million contract. Young’s new pact actually dropped his pay for this season, clearing the salary cap room the 49ers needed to sign Druckenmiller, the 26th player selected overall.

Druckenmiller, who arrived at camp late Wednesday, began the day by heading to general manager Dwight Clark’s office and signing a six-year, $5.65 million contract. The deal included a $2 million signing bonus.

Anxious to get on the field after spending the past two weeks working out on his own in the Los Angeles area, Druckenmiller hurried through breakfast and then bolted to the locker room to get ready for practice.

``Everybody was kind of kidding me and teasing me,″ Druckenmiller said. ``Then I realized I was 45 minutes early. I was the first one in line there. I didn’t know what time practice was. I was just happy to be here.″

Said coach Steve Mariucci: ``He had no clue what time anything was, but I’m sure he’s not going to be late for anything.″

Druckenmiller spent most of the time watching practice before stepping in near the end to run the scout team, helping San Francisco prepare for its exhibition opener Saturday against the San Diego Chargers. He won’t play, however.

Following practice, Druckenmiller stayed an extra 20 minutes working on passing and footwork drills with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He also fielded questions for 15 minutes during an informal news conference and spent another 15 minutes signing autographs for fans standing behind a fence.

``It was fun to see him there, you know?″ Mariucci said. ``In fact, I’m going to put a pot of coffee in his room at night and he is going to just cram and try to learn all this in a short period of time.″

The 49ers had hoped to have Druckenmiller compete with Jeff Brohm for the backup job but he’s slated for the No. 3 job this season because he missed the first two weeks of camp, including 10 days of offensive scheme installation.

Brohm has little more experience than Druckenmiller, having appeared in three NFL games, but he got a lot of practice time in Druckenmiller’s absence and solidified his hold on the backup job.

Druckenmiller said he wished he could have come in earlier but the 49ers’ cap squeeze prevented it.

He said he’ll just bide his time and keep working toward climbing up the depth chart and when he gets his chance, he knows he’ll be under pressure to live up to the legacy of success established by Young and Joe Montana.

``This is overwhelming at times but right now it’s football for me,″ Druckenmiller said. ``I would like to have a long career here. I don’t want to bounce around to a lot of teams. Hopefully I can get locked up here long term and be the next man. That’s going to be my challenge for me, to step up as soon as I can and make a drive for that starting spot.″

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