The 49ers didn’t do a whole lot during their last practice in Santa Clara before boarding a flight to Baltimore. So instead of a standard report on today’s events, let’s focus on something trivial based on photos I took this morning.
George Whitfield, a quarterbacks specialist/guru who’s worked with guys like Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel, has spent the offseason with the 49ers as a coaching intern.
“I’ve really enjoyed being around George. I think he’s a bright young coach who shows a real aptitude for being able to communicate at a high level,” Greg Roman said.
“I know he’s enjoying himself. you always want to keep your eyes open for new ideas. You just always want to grow as a coach, and I think it’s a great opportunity for George.”
He’s known for coming up with creative drills, often testing the quarterbacks with different footwork tasks before throwing at a target. The target is usually a butterfly net, and that’s what they used today.
The drill: Pretend to take a snap, turn to the left while dropping back, then roll out toward the right sideline. From the 15-yard line (or thereabouts), fire a pass toward the net, which was located in the corner of the end zone.
Here’s the net:
The drill looked like fun. I wouldn’t have minded taking a shot at it, but I’m not even allowed to talk to players and coaches during practice, let alone pick up a ball and chuck a pass that probably would’ve sailed over the fence. All the quarterbacks took turns, and no one successfully completed the task while I was present (although Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group stuck around while we took a tour of the 49ers museum and saw Colin Kaepernick fire one into the net).
Here’s McLeod Bethel-Thompson:
Here’s Josh Johnson:
Here’s Blaine Gabbert, who was the only quarterback I saw who connected with the target itself (his passes clanged off metal twice):
Here’s Kaepernick, who became increasingly frustrated after each attempt:
Even Frank Gore, who has never thrown a pass in nine NFL seasons, gave it a shot:
Gore didn’t come close to hitting the target, either. Neither did a surprise entrant: the 49ers offensive coordinator.
Seeing as the target looked like a sideways basket, I can dig Roman’s “Kareem Abdul-Jabaar skyhook” throwing mechanics.
And his Heisman pose:
Roman and I had a brief exchange after practice:
BASG: You tried your hand a couple times at that rollout drill with the butterfly net. How would you grade your performance?
Roman: Do you have any film evidence of this?
BASG: I might have a couple pictures.
Roman: Well, in that case, I have to answer the question then. I think I give it an F. I think I need to better warm up and be less impulsive, but it was great getting the blood flowing.
Kaepernick was much kinder.
“He’s much improved. He’s getting better every week. I’m going to expect big things from him next week,” said Kaepernick, barely containing laughter.
The only guy I saw put one into the net was Whitfield, right before I departed.
I can’t quote what guys say on the practice field, so let’s just say Kaepernick gave Whitfield a hard time for running about 10 yards forward and releasing the ball so close to the goal-line.