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South coach Kyle Shanahan praises quarterbacks’ ability to learn on the fly at Senior Bowl

South head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers takes a snap during practice for Saturday's Senior Bowl college football game, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Mobile, Ala. (Butch Dill / AP)

MOBILE, Ala. – For the amount of time they’ve had to pick up a new offense, the quarterbacks playing for the South team “much further along” than Senior Bowl coach Kyle Shanahan expected.

Shanahan’s bunch this week includes Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, along with West Virginia’s Will Grier, Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. All four split snaps evenly as the South team went through its third and final practice Thursday afternoon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The passers went through drills involving only QBs and wide receivers, one-on-ones with receivers and defensive backs, skeleton drills with linebackers and defensive backs and full team periods that most resemble the game scenario they’ll encounter Saturday during the Senior Bowl (11:30 a.m. PT, NFL Networks).

Shanahan and his San Francisco 49ers assistants are working with the South team and the coach said Thursday his quarterbacks have been sponges with their ability to learn new play concepts and schemes in only a few days’ time.

“I’m very impressed,” Shanahan said. “There’s not enough time with what those guys habve done where if they’re not working on it a little before they got here, working on it when they’re not with us, there’s just not enough time for them to be comfortable this week.”

It isn’t Shanahan’s first Senior Bowl experience. Years ago, he coached a class of quarterbacks that included Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles. That group cultivated a few elite NFL passers, but it also struggled to operate cleanly or consistently the first few days of Senior Bowl week.

Minshew, Grier, Jackson and Stidham been much better in that that regard, Shanahan thinks.

“All four of them have done a great job and obviously did work before we got here,” Shanahan said. “Some of the verbage, under center taking snaps because they havent’ done much of it. I remember the first day I was here the last time, we couldn’t run 9-on-7’s because we fumbled every snap the first day. So that’s what I was expecting and these guys weren’t like that.”