Kaepernick expecting starting competition, playoffs


Kaepernick expecting starting competition, playoffs

49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick doesn't necessarily see himself as a backup. Twelve days after San Francisco fell in overtime of the NFC Championship to close Kaepernick's rookie season, the former Nevada Wold Pack quarterback spoke with the Reno Gazette-Journal with an exclusive interview.

He addressed the highs and lows of his first NFL season, his personal growth and -- maybe most interestingly -- his goal for next season.

Kaepernick, whose offseason regimen was limited due to the lockout, admits there was a lot to adjust to in his first year.

"I learned a lot of things and got my eyes opened to the playbook, the length of the season and how complex the schemes are," Kaepernick said. "There were a lot of things to take in."

Kaepernick, 24, said he spoke with coaches Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman after the season about what he needs to do "to get better and get on the field." He has a few pieces of homework, "like working on different arm angles on throws and trying to speed up his feet."

Kaepernick is excited at the prospect of an entire offseason to work on his game. He said he "plans on trying to take the starting job" from Alex Smith next year. Someone told him "Coach Harbaugh said it's an open job. It will be earned." And Kaepernick is under the impression that "they'll give him a fair shot."

The 49ers traded up in the 2011 NFL Draft, selecting Kaepernick in the second round. He played in three games as a rookie, completing three of his five total pass attempts. But the big difference between the Colin Kaepernick that was drafted 36th overall in 2011 and the Colin Kaepernick who's beginning his first NFL offseason training program? He'll tell you it's his "comfort level with the offense and what's going on."

That comfort level was critical when Kaepernick was a big hit away from quarterbacking the NFC Championship, a place some quarterbacks go an entire career without reaching. Despite no game action, the playoff experience left a strong impression on the rookie, one reminiscent of the 49ers 1980s dynasty.

"Now, it's almost like an expectation," Kaepernick said of the playoffs. "For all us rookies, it's the only thing we know."

The last time the 49ers expected -- really expected -- to be in the playoffs year-in and year-out, Joe Montana was at the helm and Kaepernick was graduating from diapers.

If hopes of being a perennial NFL playoff quarterback are to come true, it'll be more than just a long offseason of work for Kaepernick. He's not biting off too much, too early, though. He just says he is "going to try to come in (at camp) and show them what he is capable of."

If he does that well -- and Harbaugh is true to his open competition -- he'll be putting pressure on Alex Smith to perform next season.

Nate Stuhlbarg is a web producer withCSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @StuhlbargCSN.

Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest


Long supports Eagles teammate, wraps arm around him during anthem protest

Chris Long supported his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, Thursday night by wrapping his left arm around Jenkins, who continued to raise his right fist in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem prior to the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.

Long's intention Thursday night was not immediately known. While he's been outspoken on Charlottesville, Virginia, he did not specify how he would conduct himself during the anthem.

Long and Jenkins both publicly criticized President Donald Trump's response to the racial tensions that resulted in the tragic violence and the death of Heather Heyer last weekend in Charlottesville, Long's hometown.

Last Sunday, Long touched on his comments by speaking to reporters, reiterating his disappointment in President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists held a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

"Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am," Long said Sunday. "I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you're on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn't."


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.