How The 49ers And Rams Helped Draw DJ Uiagalelei To Oregon State
By 750 THE GAME STAFF
For DJ Uiagalelei, it’s all about ball.
That much is clear following DJ’s first public one-on-one interview that he gave to John Canzano on 750 The Game on Thursday.
Canzano asked Uiagalelei what drew him to Oregon State after he decided to transfer from Clemson, and DJ said the Beavers offensive scheme played a primarily role.
“When I put my name in the portal, I thought there was a handful of teams I thought were really good that I thought I could be able to play at, and just develop me and get me to the next level,” Uiagalelei said on 750 The Game. “And I thought Oregon State was number-one on my list.”
“I love the way how Coach Lindgren runs the offense, and Coach Smith, love what they do with the pro-style system. To me, it almost feels like you’re playing with the 49ers or the Sean McVay Rams when they had Jared Goff back there. So that was the biggest thing for me. I wanted to go somewhere where I would play in a pro-style offense, get under center, do some play-action pass, different run-checks and be able to just grow my knowledge of the football game.”
The Beavers recent dominance in the outside-zone running game makes the Shanahan and McVay comparisons all the more natural. The pre-Stafford era Rams in particular rode a healthy Todd Gurley and a young Jared Goff on an outside-zone, play-action heavy scheme all the way to a Super Bowl appearance in 2018. Similarly in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have become synonymous with a dynamic outside-zone run game and efficient play-action passing attack that helped propel them to a Super Bowl appearance with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback in 2019, and another deep playoff run this past season that featured Brock Purdy at the helm.
Fans who watch Oregon State on a weekly basis with an even casual relationship to the NFL can see the similarities in offensive philosophy. Uiagalelei certainly does, and it is in part what drew him to Corvallis.
But it’s not just the Niners and Rams who get featured on Beaver film sessions.
“When we were installing the plays, (we saw) a lot of NFL clips from different NFL teams,” Uiagalelei said. “Niners definitely come up there. You see a lot from the Vikings. A lot from the old Rams, when Jared Goff was there, and then some from the Packers. But all in that, the Sean McVay offense, and the Shanahan (offense)…all those different type of offenses, they all correlate and are all similar.”
Uiagalelei’s Clemson career began with Tony Elliott as offensive coordinator before Elliott left to take the head coaching job at Virginia at the end of the 2021 season. Dabo Swinney then promoted from within, giving longtime Clemson assistant Brandon Streeter the offensive coordinator job. Despite an 8-0 start last season, Clemson’s RPO-heavy scheme with Uiagalelei began to sputter down the stretch, and they eventually turned to backup Cade Klubnik for the regular-season finale vs North Carolina and their Orange Bowl appearance vs Tennessee.
Uiagalelei put his name in the portal. And Streeter was fired after one season as offensive coordinator.
Now in Corvallis, Uiagalelei feels thankful and excited for a new start and a new scheme.
“That was the thing going into it. I wanted to go somewhere, wanted to get a reset, get a fresh start,” he said. “It’s been good, man. Be able to get a restart, just come out here and just redefine myself to what other people want to see from me.
“But for me, come in here, do my thing. Play free, have fun, go out here and just play football, man. I love it.”
Listen to the full one-on-one interview with the new Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei below, and listen to John Canzano deliver The Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.