A week ago, I asked Jim Harbaugh about Colt McCoy’s progress and whether he was ready to name a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback behind Colin Kaepernick. While Harbaugh said it was too early to make any announcements, he made it clear that McCoy is and will be the primary backup.
That leaves Scott Tolzien and a rookie the 49ers took in the seventh round, B.J. Daniels. In the practices I’ve seen, Harbaugh has put in a lot of time with Daniels. Before today’s minicamp session, Daniels talked about what Harbaugh focuses on.
“Footwork. That’s the big thing. Your feet guide you to where you need to throw the ball. One or two hitches and it’s a little too late and you’ve got to be able to check down to the running back,” Daniels said. And that’s pretty clear during practice. Harbaugh likes to play catch, but he also likes to focus on the perfect three-step drop and how exactly one should hand the ball to a running back.
Harbaugh does the same thing with each quarterback, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that something’s going on with Daniels. And after today’s practice, Scott Tolzien should probably start worrying. The only interceptions I saw today came from Tolzien, and he threw three of them. Darcel McBath made a great leaping pick in the corner of the end zone, Craig Dahl intercepted a Tolzien pass intended for Vance McDonald, and Tramaine Brock also caught a Tolzien throw and took it the other way. Tolzien also got several more reps under center than Daniels, who has a strong arm but is short (listed at 5′ 11″) and is still learning the offense.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m convinced the 49ers would like someone who can mimic Russell Wilson. Is that a reason to keep a guy on the roster? No, but it’s something that might land Daniels a spot on the practice squad. If he learns the offense quickly and impresses the coaching staff during training camp, who knows? A lot of people thought Josh Johnson would be the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Kaepernick last year.
Another thing in Daniels’ favor is his versatility. He has worked on special teams and as a receiver, where he says his hands are “okay, alright, not bad.”
After Daniels said that the coaches have asked him to work on special teams, I asked him about whether that meant returning punts, kickoffs or both. 18-second video here has his answer:
Here’s what else I noticed today:
— Marcus Lattimore was running sprints at the beginning of practice during the time when cameras are allowed, so I caught this:
Lattimore was moving well, and he is LARGE. Tackling a fully healthy Lattimore must have been an awful task for South Carolina’s opponents.
— Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh both complimented A.J. Jenkins before practice, and during today’s session he made the catch of the day. Jenkins was split out wide to the right, and ran a slant. McCoy threw a pass well behind Jenkins, who dove in the opposite direction that his momentum was taking him and made the grab. After the play McCoy walked over to Jenkins, said something and gave him a tap on the shoulder.
— Lawrence Okoye is a physical specimen, but it’s not clear that he knows what he’s doing during 11-on-11 drills. Harbaugh actually got a little annoyed during his media session today — after answering the fifth consecutive question about Okoye, he said, “I think that’s probably enough ground covered there on Lawrence.”
— Kaepernick looks like he has found a new favorite receiver with Michael Crabtree out. Surprise, surprise — it’s Anquan Boldin. It was difficult to see every play from where we were standing, but from what I could tell Kaepernick targeted Boldin six times, which resulted in five catches. Boldin easily had more catches than any other receiver.
— One cool moment was when they ran a red zone play right in front of us. Kaepernick rolled to his left to create extra time, and Tarell Brown yelled, “I got your back! I got him!” to Parys Haralson, who was trying to stick with undrafted rookie free agent receiver Chuck Jacobs. Both defenders stuck with their men, and Kaepernick threw the ball away. Nothing special, but on-field communication is fun to hear when the players aren’t “mic’d up.”
— The catch weren’t as extraordinary as Jenkins’ grab, but Kaepernick threw a nice pass over everyone to McDonald, who was streaking down the middle and caught the ball about 25 yards downfield.
— Marlon Moore also caught a long pass down the right sideline from McCoy.
— MarQueis Gray was targeted several times and made a few catches. It’s weird seeing a guy wearing No. 46 with dreadlocks, though.
— Frank Gore, Kyle Williams, Kendall Hunter, Mike Iupati, Joe Staley, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith were all doing conditioning work, which often consisted of tugging weights over a distance of about 50 yards that were chained to their waists.