The 49ers have been protecting Colin Kaepernick since training camp began, and that probably won’t change on Sunday. The third preseason game is usually the point during the exhibition season when the starters show what they can do for the longest period of time, but the 49ers have a finite number of snaps and a new five-quarterback rotation with the addition of Seneca Wallace.
“I think (Wallace) can hit the ground running,” said Jim Harbaugh, who expects his newest quarterback to play against the Minnesota Vikings. “Think he really can, yeah. Numerous plays in our system he’s done before, whether in Cleveland or Seattle. Just a matter of learning how we call them, getting familiar with the quarterback/center exchange. Timing with receivers may not be precise and exact, but being able to get out there and compete, we think he can do that.”
Wallace, who grew up in the Sacramento area “as a big fan of the San Francisco 49ers,” has spent the last day or so working with quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst on getting familiar with the playbook. The West Coast Offense is the same pretty much everywhere, but he talked about how the terminology can be different and how that poses a challenge.
“Some of the stuff is obviously stuff that I’ve been around the last 11 years,” Wallace said. “Now it’s just kind of putting it into their terms. At this point, since this is my first practice, I’m just utilizing what I’ve known, doing it in the same offense and hearing things like how I’ve heard it before, and then just putting it in their terms.”
The terminology isn’t all that important right now for the coaching staff. They just need quarterbacks who can move the ball, something Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien have struggled to do throughout training camp. McCoy is still scheduled to come in after Kaepernick, and B.J. Daniels should see some time after his impressive debut in Kansas City. Tolzien, however, is a question mark.
“We’ll see how Scott does today in practice after an off day. There was something he was working through; he wasn’t at full speed Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday, since the ballgame at Kansas City,” Harbaugh said. “If he’s good to go 100% or close to it then we’ll split it up after Kap four ways.”
Friday notes from Santa Clara
— Despite things not looking so great for Tolzien this week with his injury and the Wallace signing, East Bay Sports Guy had an interesting statistical breakdown that shows why Tolzien shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
— The 49ers installed a mini-hoop in the locker room this year, and during the couple times I’ve been in there so far it’s seen a lot of use. Kendall Hunter and Chuck Jacobs were practicing their “free throws” (the rim is about seven feet off the ground and the furthest spot the players can shoot from straight-on is about 10-12 feet away from the basket).
— Chad Hall soared through the air to swat away a LaMichael James standstill 10-footer, which led an unknown player from far away to yell, “That’s how Chad jumps!” Then Bruce Miller grabbed the ball and dunked over James. If this hoop survives training camp without getting destroyed, I’d be very surprised.
— The third cornerback competition is “between Tramaine Brock and Nnamdi Asomugha,” according to Harbaugh, who didn’t give a hint either way as to which corner might be in the lead.
— Similarly, Harbaugh said the long snapping competition between Brian Jennings and Kevin McDermott is “very, very even.” That being said, it’s hard to imagine Jennings will lose the job.
— Marcus Lattimore will start the year on the PUP list, not IR.
— I asked Harbaugh about the importance of having a backup quarterback on the roster with game experience (both Wallace and McCoy have started 21 times in the NFL).
“It’s preferable to have game experience at any position. Certainly that’s not always the case, and whoever the best player is who gives us the best chance at winning the game as a backup quarterback, then that’s who you want on your roster. That’s who you want going in, whether he has game experience or not.”
— It’s almost eerie how similar McCoy’s and Wallace’s career stats look — they both average 6.3 yards per attempt and have win/loss records of 6-15 as a starter.
— More links: I posted several photos from Wednesday’s practice (including Kaepernick working with Harbaugh and a few interesting shots of Daniels — don’t worry, it’s not a slideshow), and we also had an interesting chat about the 49ers with Tim Kawakami during this morning’s BASGcast.