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


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.

RECAP: 49ers camp summary (86) -- Kaepernick shows flashes

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.

MAIOCCO: Kaepernick enters exhibition opener same way he started camp

"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.

REWIND: 49ers camp battle -- Colin Kaepernick vs. Josh Johnson

"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.

Snap count: 49ers' rookie running backs watch the veterans

Snap count: 49ers' rookie running backs watch the veterans

SANTA CLARA – Rookie running backs Joe Williams and Matt Breida have made strong bids for roster spots. But on Saturday night, the 49ers wanted to see what the veterans could do.

Williams entered the game late and played only four snaps of offense. He carried once for 1 yard. Another designed run play was aborted when a Denver Broncos defensive lineman got into the backfield so quickly he forced a fumble before the handoff could occur.

Breida, an undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern, did not see any snaps on offense in the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said the plan all along was for Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs to see a lot of action after neither played in the exhibition opener.

“We’re trying to give them a chance to compete,” Shanahan said. “We see it in practice each day, but in games you want to see what guys do breaking through those arm tackles and see how they perform.

“We have a tough competition at back. If you rotate them every series, you don’t really give anyone a chance to show what they are. We try to do it that way. I’ve really tried to do it that way my entire career. You try to select which games you’re going to try to give guys a number of carries, so you have enough when it’s all said and done after four to try to make a decision.”

The 49ers’ run game was non-existent against the Broncos. Starter Carlos Hyde gained 26 yards on eight attempts. Bibbs managed 6 yards on four carries, while Hightower was thrown for minus-1 yard on three rushes.

In the exhibition opener last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Williams gained 60 yards on seven carries, while Breida rushed for 40 yards on 11 tries. Raheem Mostert, the 49ers' leading rusher (15 carries, 89 yards) in the exhibition opener, was limited to just four plays on special teams.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

Quarterback – *Brian Hoyer 24, C.J. Beathard 20, Matt Barkley 4
Running back – *Carlos Hyde 20, Tim Hightower 14, Kapri Bibbs 10, *Kyle Juszczyk 6, Tyler McCloskey 5, Joe Williams 4
Wide receiver – Louis Murphy 23, *Marquise Goodwin 18, Kendrick Bourne 15, Jeremy Kerley 13, Aldrick Robinson 13, Victor Bolden 12, Trent Taylor 11, *Pierre Garçon 10, DeAndre Carter 5
Tight end – George Kittle 22, Garrett Celek 12, Logan Paulsen 10, *Vance McDonald 9, Blake Bell 5, Cole Hikutini 3
Offensive line – Erik Magnuson 25, *Trent Brown 24, *Zane Beadles 23, *Daniel Kilgore 23, *Brandon Fusco 23, *Joe Staley 23, JP Flynn 21, Tim Barnes 21, Garry Gilliam 21, John Theus 20, Darrell Williams 4, Norman Price 4, Andrew Lauderdale 4, Andrew Gardner 4

Defensive line – D.J. Jones 38, Leger Douzable 36, Pita Taumoepenu 31, *Chris Jones 30, Quinton Dial 23, *Arik Armstead 23, *Earl Mitchell 19, Solomon Thomas 16, *Tank Carradine 15, Noble Nwachukwu 15, Elvis Dumervil 8
Linebacker – Dekoda Watson 33, Brock Coyle 30, Ray-Ray Armstrong 30, Ahmad Brooks 30, *Eli Harold 23, *Reuben Foster 23, *NaVorro Bowman 23, Shayne Skov 22, Alex Calitro 21
Cornerback – Asa Jackson 40, Ahkello Witherspoon 39, Keith Reaser 30, Will Davis 22, *Dontae Johnson 20, *Rashard Robinson 20, K’Waun Williams 11
Safety – *Lorenzo Jerome 37, Jaquiski Tartt 33, *Eric Reid 23, Don Jones 22, Vinnie Sunseri 19, Adrian Colbert 19
* -- Starter

D.Jones 18, Bell 17, Taumoepenu 17, DeAndre Smelter 16, Jerome 16, Celek 11, Watson 11, Coyle 10, Sunseri 10, Armstrong 10, Skov 9, C.Jones 9, Tartt 9, Bradley Pinion 8, Calitro 8, Colbert 8, Paulsen 8, Jackson 8, Kyle Nelson 7, Bolden 7, Bibbs 6, Witherspoon 6, Reaser 5, Dial 5, Davis 5, Raheem Mostert 4, Harold 4, Carter 4, Johnson 4, D.Williams 4, D.J. Jones 4, Robbie Gould 3, Robinson 3, J.Williams 3, Flynn 3, Douzable 3, Carradine 3, Nwachukwu 2, Price 2, Taylor 2, Kerley 2, Barnes 2, Theus 2, Magnuson 2, McCloskey 2, Armstrong 2, Foster 2, Reid 2, Bowman 2, Mitchell 2, Nick Rose 1, Matt Breida 1, Tim Patrick 1, Thomas 1, Bourne 1, Lauderdale 1, Brooks 1

QB Nick Mullens, WR Aaron Burbridge, DB Will Redmond, DB Jimmie Ward, DB Prince Charles Iworah, LB Sean Porter, LB Aaron Lynch, G Joshua Garnett, DL Ronald Blair, DL DeForest Buckner

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

Potential big play slips from Hoyer's grasp during preseason loss to Broncos

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw the ball well enough to impress the Denver Broncos’ defensive backs during the 49ers’ two joint practices.

While he hit most of his passes on Saturday night, it was one that slipped away that summarized the 49ers’ 33-14 loss to the Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.

Hoyer had plenty of time to throw and saw a potential big play unfolding as he started to throw to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. But the ball popped out of Hoyer’s right hand as he began to throw.

“I was getting ready to rip it to Kerley,” Hoyer said. “He had a double-move route, and I thought he was going to win. I went to throw it. And I was going to throw it hard, and literally, I think my arm even went forward and I was looking around, ‘What happened to the ball?' "

The ball ended up loose on the ground, where Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris recovered.

“My quarterbacks coach asked me, ‘When’s the last time that happened to you?’ Hoyer said. “Maybe a few years ago in practice, that happened one time. I never had that happen in a game. It’s the worst feeling. You go to throw the ball and you’re looking, and all of a sudden, you look around and you have no idea where it is.”

Hoyer and the 49ers passing game was sharp during two practice sessions with the Broncos during the week, prompting All-Pro defensive backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris to praise the Hoyer, as well as coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Hoyer completed 8 of 11 pass attempts for 89 yards under the lights of Levi's Stadium. He threw an interception when 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin juggled the ball and Denver defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris wrestled the ball away from him as they tumbled to the ground.

“There weren’t any reads on his 11 attempts that I was upset with,” Shanahan said of Hoyer.

“(On) his pick, Marquise has to catch that ball. He threw it to him. That keeps the drive alive. He just didn’t catch it clean and the DB made a good play. I wish Brian could’ve played longer to get a chance to get into some sort of rhythm.”

In the game, the 49ers committed 11 penalties for 86 yards and turned the ball over five times. Denver scored 27 points off those turnovers.

“I don’t think any of us should be pleased right now,” Hoyer said. “When you put the defense in that situation, regardless of whether it’s a regular-season game or a preseason game, you should feel displeased with the performance.”