Kaepernick rebounds with strong minicamp finale


Kaepernick rebounds with strong minicamp finale

SANTA CLARA -- The competition for the No. 2 job behind starting quarterback Alex Smith will be a race worth watching when 49ers training camp opens in late-July.Through the first two days of the 49ers' mandatory minicamp this week, second-stringer Colin Kaepernick struggled with his accuracy more than any of the team's quarterbacks.But the second-round draft pick of a year ago rebounded Thursday with a strong closing day. Kaepernick had several outstanding throws, including a 30-yard pass to undrafted rookie Brian Tyms that he fit between two defenders."Colin had a near-perfect day," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, adding that he charted Kaepernick with one incompletion and two dropped passes.Kaepernick figured to be up against strong competition for the backup job from Josh Johnson, whom the 49ers signed as a free agent. But Scott Tolzien might have been the most consistent of the team's three backup quarterbacks during the 49ers' mandatory minicamp.Smith, meanwhile, has left no doubt where he ranks on the depth chart."Alex definitely separated himself further than what he was, which was a lot coming out of the season," Harbaugh said. "He's the solid starter. I don't think anybody questions that."Harbaugh reiterated that he believes all four quarterbacks on the 49ers' 90-man roster will play a long time in the NFL.The 49ers also feel blessed with significant depth at wide receiver -- unlike a year ago.

When asked if Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss separated themselves as the starters, Harbaugh took the opportunity to mention every receiver who has practiced during the offseason. Harbaugh did not mention Ted Ginn, who did not participate in the offseason practices as he returns to full strength while rehabbing a right knee injury."Both of those guys worked extremely hard and are outstanding teammates," Harbaugh said of Moss and Crabtree. "Everybody loves being around them. If you ask anybody around them, A-plus-plus, the way they worked."But Harbaugh did not stop there, saying:
--Mario Manningham "really surged on in this camp as he's gotten to know system."
--Kyle Williams continues to elevate his game and his play spiked during the minicamp.--Brett Swain and Joe Hastings continue to improve their play from a year ago.--First-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins, as well as undrafted rookies Nathan Palmer, Tyms and Chris Owusu comprise an outstanding crop of young receivers."The young guys showed really good flashes," Harbaugh said. "Even more sure now than when we had the first rookie minicamp, this is the best group of rookie receivers ever been around. Now we're sure of that."

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)