Minicamp Day 3: 49ers concentrate on red zone

Minicamp Day 3: 49ers concentrate on red zone
June 20, 2014, 8:00 am
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Most important, there were no injuries sustained during the nine-week program that will have any impact on the team when it reconvenes.
Matt Maiocco

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers concluded their offseason program Thursday exactly where you would expect.

The red zone.

The 49ers’ offense spent a lot of time working inside the opponent’s 20-yard line during the offseason program. Even in down time when the rest of the team was engaged in special-teams drills, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the others would gather the veteran receivers to work on fade routes, back-shoulder throws or slants near the goal line.

It's not much of a surprise, considering the 49ers' past two seasons ended with failed pass attempts in the end zone.

[RELATED: Minicamp Day 1 observations | Day 2]

On the final day of the 49ers’ three-day mandatory minicamp, Colin Kaepernick made good on his final two snaps inside the red zone.

He drilled a 14-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin between safeties Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid. Then, his last attempt of the offseason program resulted in a touchdown to a leaping Vance McDonald in traffic.

The 49ers had a scheduled 90-minute practice. After 55 minutes, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was satisfied the mandatory three-day minicamp was a success.

Strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama, who leads the post-practice cool-down stretching, was tardy as he made the run from the weight room to the field. The team, growing anxious with the brief delay, reacted like it was the last day of school as Uyeyama ran toward the field to lead the final requirement before the players were free to go on vacation.

The offseason program was a success, to be sure. The 49ers installed their offenses and defenses. They built the foundation in the non-contact practices that will carry over to the beginning of training camp in late-July.

And, more important, there were no injuries sustained during the nine-week program that will have any impact on the team when it reconvenes.

“Outstanding. Really pleased,” Harbaugh said. “(I) thought our players are getting better and better at multiple positions on our team. Coming out of this feeling really good that we improved as a football team this week, over the nine weeks over the offseason training, and stayed pretty much completely healthy. Come out of here with no serious injuries, no keep-him-out-very-long injuries. (I) feel good about that.”

Here are some other notes and observations from the final 49ers practice:

--Quarterback-coaching intern George Whitfield worked with all of the quarterbacks, including Kaepernick, on a ball-handling drill at the beginning of practice in which they snatched the ball out of the air, then lofted passes to a target stationed on the other side of a screen.

--LaMichael James, Bruce Ellington, Devon Wylie and Quinton Patton fielded punts. It’s something new for Patton, who dropped one ball during the period.

--Kaepernick did not attempt many deep passes during the minicamp, as he seemed to work a lot on his underneath throws. However, Kaepernick did open 7-on-7 drills with a deep attempt down the seam to Vance McDonald, but the ball was overthrown.

--Presumptive backup Blaine Gabbert made a nice throw between Perrish Cox and Craig Dahl to find Brandon Lloyd along the right sideline.

--During 7-on-7, cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Antoine Bethea broke up passes intended for Boldin and tight end Asante Cleveland, respectively.

--Outside linebackers Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Corey Lemonier proved to be a handful for the offensive line with their pass-rush moves.

--Cornerback Darryl Morris had good coverage and a near-interception on a Gabbert deep post intended for Lloyd.

--Inside linebacker Nick Moody broke up a Josh Johnson pass intended for Patton the final red-zone drill.

--It was another strong showing for rookie wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who made several nifty receptions, including a camp-ending touchdown grab from Johnson in the red zone.

--Harbaugh’s final words to his team were designed to caution his players to avoid the off-field issues that have plagued the 49ers in recent seasons. “Beware with whom you associate,” Harbaugh said.