Matt & Mindi: The 49ers are Colin Kaepernick's team
SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' best wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, will miss most of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. But quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he sees plenty of other alternatives.
"We have a lot of great receivers that are out here right now," Kaepernick said Thursday, prior to the 49ers' final practice of their mandatory three-day minicamp.
"Losing Crab and losing the other receivers (Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams) last season, obviously, isn't something you want. But we have receivers out there working."
The 49ers brought in veteran Austin Collie for a workout Thursday. No signing appears imminent, as the 49ers likely wanted to evaluate Collie's physical condition after he sustained a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that limited him to one game last season. Collie, who has also experienced issues with concussions, has been cleared to resume his NFL career. He worked out for the New England Patriots earlier this week.
In Crabtree's absence, veteran Anquan Boldin is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver. And second-year player A.J. Jenkins appears to have a slight edge for the other starting position with Williams and Manningham yet to be cleared for full practices. Quinton Patton, Ricardo Lockette, Marlon Moore, Kassim Osgood and Chad Hall have also flashed on the practice field.
Kaepernick described Jenkins' improvement as "huge." Jenkins, a first-round draft pick, dropped the only Kaepernick pass that was intended for him last season.
"He's leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last year," Kaepernick said. "We just need to get him on the field now."
Kaepernick has also made a lot of strides in a short period of time with Boldin, whom the 49ers acquired in a trade with the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens for a sixth-round draft pick. Boldin is not known for creating a lot of separation in pass patterns. But he is adept at fighting for the ball in traffic.
So what has Kaepernick learned about Boldin?
"To give him a chance," he said. "That's the biggest thing right now. If you give him a chance to make a play, more times than not, he's going to make it."
This offseason has been unlike any other for Kaepernick. He was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, but did not work out at the 49ers' practice facility due to the lockout that spring and summer. A year ago, Alex Smith was the no-questions-asked starter until his concussion opened the door for Kaepernick midway through the season.
When asked about his biggest personal growth from a year ago, Kaepernick said, ""I think just my leadership out here, being comfortable in taking that role. Being comfortable talking to any player on the team, and telling them if they need to do something a little different to help our offense."
His increased leadership indirectly carries over the field because of the confidence he must exhibit in order to step to the forefront.
"It's really just the confidence overall," Kaepernick said. "Being able to step up and say something really doesn't effect your play on the field. The confidence of knowing your job and what you want to do is the biggest thing."