Today’s practice was effectively the opposite of what we saw during Friday’s preseason opener, at least in the sense of who got the most time behind center. Scott Tolzien got the vast majority of the reps in that game, followed by Colt McCoy (who would’ve received more if he hadn’t suffered a stinger) and Colin Kaepernick, who played one series. This afternoon it was rookie Swiss Army knife B.J. Daniels who threw more passes than anyone else, followed by Kaepernick. Here’s how the quarterbacks looked based on the (unofficial) numbers:
- Daniels: 17-for-33, 4 INT
- Kaepernick: 19-for-28, 1 INT
- McCoy: 11-for-16, 0 INT
- Tolzien: 5-for-9, 0 INT
Those stats, basic as they are, pretty much told the story — at least when referring to Daniels. He appeared to be playing “three flies up” at times, chucking balls into the air without much more than hope behind them. He’s got a nice arm, and it would be fun to see what he could do in the fourth quarter at Kansas City, but it appears unlikely he’ll progress enough to challenge Tolzien for the No. 3 job.
In fact — broken record alert — with every practice it becomes more obvious how much better Kaepernick is than the rest, and today was yet another example. He’s so much bigger and faster than the other three, and his arm is by far the strongest and most accurate. Whenever I see an exceptional play I’ll mark it with a star so it grabs my attention when I look back at my notes, and today Kaepernick had five star-worthy plays:
- A beautiful 20-yard touch pass to Kyle Williams along the left sideline — Williams only caught two passes but received as many reps as I’ve seen thus far.
- Kaepernick made a similar-looking 15-yard toss about five minutes later to Anthony Dixon, who got both feet in bounds at the 1-yard-line.
- The play of the day was probably a 25-yard Kaepernick throw near the right hashmarks that Vernon Davis caught in stride in between a leaping C.J. Spillman and Craig Dahl.
- Kaepernick connected on a 20-yard wheel route throw to a wide open Garrett Celek, who had Travis Johnson beat by five yards.
- Kaepernick chucked one high in the air for Marlon Moore, who came back and grabbed it for a 45-yard completion over Marcus Cooper. Cooper had good position on the play, but was unable to come back and stop Moore from making the catch.
After that last play, safety Trenton Robinson was livid and screamed at the rest of the defensive backs that allowing catches probably wasn’t something they should continue doing. But for the most part the defense outplayed the offensive side. While No. 7 made some nice plays and completed most of his throws, the pass rush and defensive backfield provided a stiff test for Kaepernick throughout the afternoon. Maybe that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since the first-, second- and third-team defensive units didn’t allow Denver to do much of anything in the preseason opener.
– Cooper would get revenge 13 plays later, as the 6-2 rookie corner went high to grab a long Kaepernick pass intended for Williams, resulting in a rare interception for the 49ers’ starting quarterback. There’s a lot to like about Cooper, a seventh-rounder with good size.
– The 49ers’ defense pressured every quarterback all afternoon. Demarcus Dobbs, Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks all recorded sacks.
– Joe Staley didn’t practice (although he was in uniform), and the line play has suffered whenever he has missed time during training camp. If the 49ers are forced to rely on Adam Snyder a lot this season, that could mean trouble. Carter Bykowski also got some time at left tackle.
– Nate Stupar had three pass breakups. Besides Cooper, players recording interceptions included Tarell Brown with two (one on a Daniels pass tipped by Jason Schepler), Donte Whitner and Perrish Cox.
– Carlos Rogers didn’t practice much today, but if he’s injured it doesn’t appear serious. The top five defensive backs with Rogers out were Whitner along with Eric Reid as safeties, with Nnamdi Asomugha and Tramaine Brock playing outside and Brown in the slot.
– Asomugha is a very physical corner. On one red zone play Kaepernick was locked on A.J. Jenkins, but Asomugha held Jenkins throughout his route and batted away the pass when it came. Was it a penalty? Maybe, but Jenkins probably wouldn’t get that call in a game anyway. Then again, Asomugha might not get away with holding against better receivers than Jenkins when the games count.
– Jenkins had no receptions during today’s practice, and all the corners (not just Asomugha) seem to play him a little rougher than some of the other receivers because they get away with it. Vernon Davis had a lot of nice things to say about Jenkins earlier in the day, when he told the media that he doesn’t “think we can rush him.”
– The leading receivers on Monday: Davis (7 receptions), Ricardo Lockette (6), Austin Collie (4), Quinton Patton (4), MarQueis Gray (4).
– Daniels loves to target Patton, who apparently is allowed to make one-handed catches (however, a couple times he broke that rule and secured the ball with both). His left hand still has a splint covering two fingers.
– Patrick Willis was on the sideline, talking to Michael Wilhoite.
– The 49ers played music at a high volume during several plays, including the favorite tune of obnoxious Ravens fans everywhere: “Seven Nation Army.” Puke.
– No matter the song, whether it was a country tune or Jay-Z’s, “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…”, Jim Tomsula could be seen dancing to it.