Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes the ball during the afternoon practice at the team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes the ball during the afternoon practice at the team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Nothing would be finer than Prescott as a Niner

While Balls wonders if the 49ers’ quarterback situation is the worst since the Steve DeBerg-Scott Bull days …

Of all the many dunderheaded things that Niners general manager Trent Baalke has done over the years, the stubborn reluctance to select a quarterback in the most recent draft ranks at or near the top. After all, even he had to know that Plain Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kapernick weren’t the answers, right? But while Baalke snoozed, other teams took advantage of the situation to address their needs.

How ’bout that Dak Prescott and them Dallas Cowboys?

Prescott has been the talk of the preseason thus far. So, yeah, the Mississippi State product still has a lot to prove. But the kid already looks to be an absolute steal in the fourth round, sort of a young Kaepernick with a brain and charisma who might have been ideal for coach Chip Kelly’s spread offense.

Just think: Prescott coulda, woulda, shoulda been a Niner.

Before Baalke sent three draft picks to the Kansas City Chiefs to move up in the order and select guard Joshua Garnett at the 28th pick, he had two selections in the fourth round. In most years, the 37th, 105th and 178th picks would have been a reasonable price to move up nine spots in the order. Not this one, though.

Because of the unusual depth in the third and fourth rounds especially, picks were at a premium there. That would have been a prime spot for Baalke to roll the dice on a quarterback, whether he be Prescott or Ohio State’s Cardale Jones or Stanford’s Kevin Hogan among others.

As Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said at the time, “That 105th pick — that’s a really good position to be in because again, at round four, to me, that’s a sweet spot.”

If Baalke had arranged a deal with the Arizona Cardinals (No. 30) or Carolina Panthers (No. 31) instead, the price for Garnett would have been cheaper. And he might have come away with a QB and cornerback Rashard Robinson (133rd) before the Cowboys’ turn at No. 135 in the fourth round. The Cardinals and Panthers chose defensive tackles who would have been available at the 37th pick, it turned out.

But that would have taken some vision and creativity, and Baalke was on Uranus when those qualities were handed out, apparently.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS: So what happens when two teams with lousy quarterback situations meet in a preseason game? Not a heckuva lot.

The biggest news to come out of the 31-24 victory over the Broncos in Denver took place before the game, when Kaepernick tested his arm and even threw some deep balls. According to Kelly, he’s expected to resume workouts this week. So if all goes well, the Gabbernick competition is soon to be on again.

Can’t stand the drama? Me, neither.

Meanwhile, Gabbert again did nothing to distance himself from the pack. He dinked and dunked for 69 yards on a half-dozen completions, all except one to running backs and tight ends.

Would you believe the guy who didn’t play a single down last season made the best impression?

That would be the well-traveled Christian Ponder, who passed for 86 yards and one touchdown and ran for 21 yards and another score despite only two days of practice with the team. True, he did it against scrubs mostly, but any Niners quarterback who completes a pass can’t be ruled out right now.

QUICK REID: The defense got pushed around in the first quarter, and worse yet, it came with somebody named Trevor Siemian at quarterback. The Broncos repeatedly picked on the left side, where cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Dontae Johnson were completions waiting to happen.

But when the Jim O’Neil’s bunch needed a big play, Eric Reid was there to make it. Pretty much turned the game around, in fact.

In the second quarter, the Broncos had the lead and the ball when Siemian stared a hole through his first option. Reid alertly stepped in to pick it off and take it to the house. And Siemian wasn’t the same guy thereafter.

In the second half, the defense forced two turnovers on sacks, but since Mark Sanchez coughed them up, they didn’t count, really.

RUSH HOUR: Balls doesn’t know much about this rookie Marcus Rush guy, but after three sacks and four solo tackles, the linebacker deserves to get his name in the paper.

A’S BEHAVING BADLY: Strangely, Athletics manager Bob Melvin didn’t sound like a company man after his developmental team mailed in another loss in Chicago on Sunday.

“It sucks,” Melvin groused. “Had a bad trip. You know, 1-5 is no good.”

Well, now we know why Melvin wasn’t his usual self.

Billy Butler sat out a second consecutive game, which Melvin had vaguely blamed on nausea the previous day. Turned out that ol’ Country Breakfast got into a clubhouse scuffle with teammate Danny Valencia, who beat him like a yoke, apparently. That explained why a tight-lipped Valencia showed up at the ballpark, while Butler stayed in his hotel room, presumably.

So not only has the front office given Melvin another bad team but one that doesn’t get along. If the skipper hadn’t agreed to a contract extension last season, Balls could almost feel sorry for him.

JUST SAYIN’: While Balls is on the subject of quarterback controversies, the Raiders will have one of their own if Derek Carr doesn’t step on it soon.

Niners preseason camp would be more fun if Jarryd Hayne was still around.

The United States basketball teams struck gold at the Rio Olympics, but the women’s was the more dominant one for these reasons: better fundamentals and fewer bloated egos …

Then again, other than Michael Phelps and a few others, the female competitors were the real stars of the Rio Olympics.

Whadya say we trade Lyin’ Ryan Lochte to China for its third-string table tennis team. And throw in Hope(less) Solo, too.

There has to be a place for Jamaica sprinter Usain Bolt on the Raiders or Niners somewhere.

WHERE HAVE YOU GONE…: James Jett and Renaldo (Skeets) Nehemiah?

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.BallsBalls: Paul LadewskiBlaine GabbertColin KapernickDak PrescottTrent Baalke

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