Kaepernick out to prove he's an NFL starter this preseason

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Kaepernick out to prove he's an NFL starter this preseason

SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick, entering his second season as the 49ers backup quarterback, was not shy about his goals for the team's four-game preseason Tuesday.

"To show that I can be a starter in this league," Kaepernick said confidently. "I want to go out, perform my best, and show everybody what I'm capable of."

Last preseason -- given the lockout and Kaepernick's non-pro style offense at Nevada -- was tough for the rookie quarterback.

"I definitely wasn't as prepared as I would have liked to be," Kaepernick admitted.

"I don't think he was overwhelmed," Roman said. "I think he was grinding through it. It was a completely different offense. Playing under center for the first time. It was a new group of players that he'd never played with before. There's a curve there."

Taking the field for the first time as a professional, Kaepernick completed nine of 19 passes for 119 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. You'll recall the game for New Orleans Saints defensive coordinators Gregg Williams' relentless defensive scheme. Kaepernick was sacked seven times.

"We got blitzed a lot," Kaepernick recalled.

"You had to bring that up," Roman said.

It was a performance that juxtaposed glimpses of greatness (his 28-yard rush among them) with clear cases of a first-year player thrown to the lions for Kaepernick. The bar is quite a bit higher this preseason.

"I think there's a better opportunity for Colin," Roman said. "Having had a season under his belt approaching this preseason, to go in and play with confidence, know what he's doing, know what he's seeing. I think it'll be a really good opportunity for him to show us what he can do."

Specifically, the 49ers are looking to see Kaepernick's ability to take the center snap (something he never had to do at Nevada), understand defenses and understand protections.

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Kaepernick, who's been facing one of the NFL's top defenses every day in practice, feels better prepared for his first preseason challenge this time around.

"Our defense does so many different things," Kaepernick said. "They do a lot of great things. It'll be good to see another team and be able to go live and see what we can do."

Kaepernick also has the luxury of an entire year of internalizing the 49ers' thick playbook. How different is it from his playbook back at Nevada?

"A lot bigger," Kaepernick acknowledged. "A lot."

But Kaepernick and his coaches feel good about the progress he's made.

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"I think that's where I've made the biggest strides in the last year," Kaepernick said. "Knowing what we're trying to get done on each play."

In the ever-changing landscape of NFL defenses where misdirection and disguised formations are established to leave a quarterback confused as to what he's looking at, knowing what the team is trying to do, and identifying what must be done to accomplish that, will be paramount for Kaepernick's ability to execute.

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"He's doing really well," Roman said. "I really like his attitude. I really like how he's maturing as a player. He's a unique guy, so he's a lot of fun to work with. I look forward to seeing him out there."

"He's made tremendous strides," Kaepernick's draft classmate Kendall Hunter said.

If Hunter and Roman can be taken at their word, then Kaepernick's lofty goal might just come into focus. His first chance should come relatively quickly when he replaces starting quarterback Alex Smith in Friday's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

"It's football," Kaepernick said. "You have to be ready for when your opportunity comes."

Football is a business, and as the primary backup to Alex Smith, Kaepernick is a big hit away from that opportunity to start for the 49ers. If this preseason goes according to his plans, no one would be concerned.

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

Reid: National anthem protest accomplished goal of awareness

SANTA CLARA – Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Eli Harold, who joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem last season, will not continue the protest this season.

Reid said Wednesday they achieved their goal of bringing attention to racial inequality in the United States.

“When we started doing that, our goal was to open up the floor to conversation. I believe we’ve achieved that goal,” Reid said. “So now we just want to move forward and just partner with people that’s trying to make a change.

“We accomplished that goal. People talked about it. I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country. And now it’s time to move on to just affecting change.”

Reid and Harold are back with the 49ers, while Kaepernick remains a free agent. The 49ers have expressed no interest in retaining Kaepernick after opting to sign free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, instead.

“I stay in touch with him,” Reid said of Kaepernick. “I’m rooting for him. Obviously, he isn’t on a team, yet, but I’m rooting for him but hopefully he gets that call after the draft.

“It’s surprising. You see some of the other quarterbacks that have been signed around the league and why he hasn’t been, it’s just unfortunate.”

When asked if thought Kaepernick was paying the price for his protest, Reid answered, “I think so. It’s unfortunate, it’s sad. People want to shy away from him because of media, PR reasons.

“You’re doing something to better the world. I mean, the guy got a plane sent to Somalia to help with the famine there. He’s been doing things that if it were anybody else in a different situation without the anthem (protest), they’d be praising him and giving him awards for it.”

 

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

Coming off Achilles injury, Bowman returns to 49ers practice at full speed

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 4 of the 2016 season, has been a full participant as the 49ers return to the practice field this week.

Bowman worked with the first team at middle linebacker Wednesday and appeared to move at top speed as the 49ers went through the second day of on-field workouts at a voluntary minicamp.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, are allowed an extra voluntary minicamp as part of their offseason program. Bowman's return to the practice field was the highlight as the 49ers enter their third-week of the offseason program.

In other notes:

--The 49ers had tryouts with three unsigned veteran players: cornerback Steve Williams, and offensive linemen Tim Barnes and Kitt O’Brien.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter made the best catch of the day on a deep throw from quarterback Matt Barkley. Carter beat Williams on the reception.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is a candidate to play the “Leo” position, was held out of competitive drills as he continues to recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

--Ronald Blair lined up at the “Leo” position with the first-team defense and beat No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam for a sack in the “non-contract” drills. Aaron Lynch was at the “Leo” position with the second team.

--Tank Carradine lined up at the 5-technique, which is a position where the 49ers could target Stanford’s Solomon Thomas with the No. 2 overall pick.

--Kyle Juszczyk showed the versatility that prompted the 49ers to make him the highest-paid fullback in the league with several pass receptions during the 90-minute practice.

--Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Robinson made a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer deep sideline pass against Rashad Ross during 7-on-7 drills.

--Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up for a 20-yard completion on the opening play of the 11-on-11 period.

--Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, did not practice due to a soft-tissue injury not related to his hamstring injury of a year ago.

--Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (soft tissue), tight end Je’Ron Hamm (leg), running back Raheem Mostert (soft tissue), linebacker Eli Harold (toe) and tight end Blake Bell (cut forehead) did not practice.