49ers training camp report, Day 11: Kaepernick misses his second practice

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during the 49ers’ 11th day of training camp, a joint practice with the Houston Texans.

THE NOT SO GOOD

1. Colin Kaepernick. Didn’t throw a pass for the second practice in a row. Took only a few reps during team drills and either handed off the ball or ran with it. Didn’t even throw a single pass during warmups. His throwing shoulder clearly bothers him. After practice, Kaepernick told the media he’s been feeling “tightness” in his shoulder. Click here to read the full transcript of his press conference.

2. WR Quinton Patton. Made two catches early during team drills before he seemed to injure himself. Then he watched the rest of practice from the sideline.

3. WR DeAndre Smelter. Made zero catches during team drills. May not have even participated – I have no idea. Never saw the guy. Smelter is the invisible man. I predict he spends the season on the Injured Reserve list.

4. WR Devon Cajuste. Dropped two passes during team drills. Turned his head around late on the second drop and almost got hit with the ball. “Eyes!” quarterback Blaine Gabbert shouted at Cajuste.

5. DE Arik Armstead. Missed another practice due to a shoulder injury. Seemed to be favoring the shoulder during practice. This injury could be more serious than the team is letting on.

6. CB Rashard Robinson. Gave up a deep touchdown catch to Jaelen Strong during 1-on-1s.

7. CB Jimmie Ward. Broke up a deep pass intended for rookie wide receiver Will Fuller during 7-on-7s, then gave up two deep catches to Fuller during 11-on-11s. Ward is a highly aggressive, highly athletic, highly undisciplined corner who seems to get burned deep every practice.

8. CB Tramaine Brock. Gave up five catches and broke up none. Gave up a short touchdown catch to DeAndre Hopkins during a red-zone drill and a long catch to Hopkins on a back-shoulder fade route.

THE GOOD

1. WR DeAndre Hopkins. The best player on the field. The Niners could use a guy like him.

2. WR Jerome Simpson. Made the catch of the day for the Niners – a long catch down the sideline. Simpson beat Texans corner A.J. Bouye with a stop-and-go double move on the play. Simpson has been one of the best receivers on the team during training camp. He may take Smelter’s roster spot.

3. WR Bruce Ellington. Led the offense in catches for the second practice in a row. Beat Texans’ No. 1 cornerback Kareem Jackson five times – once during 1-on-1s, and four times during team drills. Jackson simply could not cover him.

4. S Jaquiski Tartt. Intercepted a pass for the second practice in a row.

5. QB Jeff Driskel. Made the best pass of the day for the second practice in a row. This one was a deep throw to slot receiver Bryce Treggs who caught the ball over his shoulder just before he ran out of bounds.

6. QB Blaine Gabbert. Took every first-string rep and completed 19-of-26 passes (three passes were dropped) during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. Gabbert seems to play much better when he doesn’t have to compete with Kaepernick.

Here are my practice notes:

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  1. So basically only 4 bad throws by Gabbert today in your estimation.

    Anything on the play of the OL or front 7 on defense?

    1. Very tough practice to cover. At times four things were going on at once. I caught a glimpse of 1 on 1 pass-rush drills. No one could block Whitney Mercilus. Trent Brown and Joshua Garnett really struggled. Tiller held his own. He may be the best guard on the team. Marcus Martin is terrible. Still weak, still out of shap. Looks gassed much of the time. Trudges around between drills while holding his helmet. Balducci may be better than him already.

        1. I wanted to draft center Hroniss Grasu out of Oregon in 2015. He just tore his ACL during practice sometime last week(end).

        2. When I put out my 53, I thought that would happen. I also thought Smelter would be on the injury list and Simpson would make the 53. Wonder how Lake is doing?

      1. I think if we drug Sapolu out of retirement and cut off one of his legs he’d be better than Martin. And it’s not Martin’s talent level, he’s got no heart or desire which sabotages his otherwise solid, NFL-level talent.

        So, yeah, Balducci, raw as he is, is probably better than him. Maybe not in a technical sense. But certainly as a guy who wants to succeed in the NFL and will do what it takes to get that brass ring.

  2. I like hearing that Ellington is stringing good practices together. He needs to be a factor in games now.

    Who got the better of the practice overall in your opinion Grant? Which team looked the most prepared for what went on today?

    1. Considering that the Texans had the Number 3 defense, they should be better than the Niners, even with Watt and Clowney out.

  3. Treggs should make this team over Smelter ., just on speed alone and playmaking ability. Was was Smelter 3rd / 4th round ?

      1. Almost. Smelter was a comp pick at end of round 4. 132 overall.

        I think there’s a big talent gap from the top of round 4 compared to a comp pick between rounds 4 and 5.

    1. Maybe, but Clowney, Watt and Cushing didn’t play. I wonder how many of those short passes would have been completed had these three guys been playing. OTOH, it sounds like Mercilus might have been pressuring Gabbert but I have yet to see a beat writer confirm that. Maybe I need to check the Houston beat writers.

  4. Hi Grant

    Do you think this QB race is over? One or two of the beatwriters have already said Blaine will be the starter from here on out. What are your thought or what are you gauging?

    1. Qb race is over. Blaine had itbin the bag the moment chip took over. Is it because hes better, i dont think so, but its because he knows when to dump the ball off. Repetitive Accuracy, is football for check down. Now, is Blaine repetitive at 15-20 yards down field, i dont think so, but while he works on it he will be repetitive at throwing short to RB’s and TE’s. Just my opinion. But #whateverworks

      1. Grant
        Do you think Gabbert has a commanding lead because he’s played better than Kaepernick or is it by default because of Kaps’ injury?

        I also noticed you said you think Kap will get his shot around week 5. Has Chip had a quick hook with his QBs in the past though? If I remember he’s only changed QBs after injury, not necessarily for poor performance.

      2. I disagree with the week 5 sentiment. I think Gabbert actually starts strong when looking at the first 5 games on the schedule. It is going to take more than 3 losses for Gabbert to be pulled.
        The Rams are starting a rookie QB. This is a winnable game for SF. At Carolina, the Carolina defense has been dismantled in the off season. No member of their four-man rotation achieved a pass-rush grade above 75.6 in ’15. Another winnable game.
        At Seattle, probably not.
        Against Az, mathiu coming back from ACL tear, aging QB, oline dismantled and all young, this is also a competitive game.
        That brings you to week 5 against Dallas who could have the weakest Defense in the entire league. If the LB’s are injured, they are suspended.
        So, feasibly SF could be 2-3 to 3-2 after 5 weeks. Neither record would warrant benching Gabbert for Kaepernick who has shown nothing thus far in camp.
        Just my opinion though. I think there are going to be some surprising leaders this year. Az is not one of them. Neither is Carolina. Cam was terrible year before, he’ll be terrible year after.

        1. If they wind up 3 and 2 that will be almost as amazing as Katie Ledecky. Wow, it’s like she was swimming by herself in the pool tonight. And only 19 years old.

  5. Thanks for the updates Grant. Many things happening at once so we depend on you as the defacto coach, watching all position groups.

    Conspiracy theory: Is it possible Baalke, fearing having to explain to Jed why he lost Jed’s 12 million dollars in Kap, who is worse than Gabby or Drislkel (at this stage of his career still can’t go through all of his progressions and/or locks on to receivers–can’t look DB’s off) invented this shoulder injury to maintain employment?…Baalke is wiley.

    1. Also noted is the surge of Treggs and Dres Anderson. 7 touchdowns between them the last 2 days, including a diving catch by Anderson today.

      Both are experienced in getting behind a defense. In the NfL if a defense doesn’t fear the accuracy of a QB completing the deep ball, or a slow WR, they load up (jump) the short routes.

      For this reason, I believe their resume is more well rounded than the others and make the 53 man roster!

    2. Get over it. He ‘lost the money’ because he probably listened to Harbaugh the ‘QB whisperer’ who wasn’t. So he traded away the ‘too conservative’ Smith for the exciting, but erratic and (ultimately) incompetent Kaepernick whom was Harbaugh’s man-crush.

    3. He would have lost the 12 mil due to Kaps injury regardless. Besides there is cap minimum as well… So keeping him for chip to have a look at made sense in any case.

  6. The 49ers’ offense bounced back from a miserable practice showing earlier this week with an efficient effort Friday against the Houston Texans that left quarterback Blaine Gabbert feeling satisfied with what he saw.

    “I feel like we were executing pretty smoothly today, hitting on a bunch passes, seeing protections, seeing pressures they were bringing, getting the ball out into the flat when it was there,” Gabbert said. “As a group, as an offense, we moved the ball.”

    –Rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel connected with rookie Bryce Treggs on a deep pass. The pair also teamed up on a deep crossing route

    –The offense got off to a good start in a one-on-one session with 11 consecutive completions, including a deep pass from Gabbert to Dres Anderson,

  7. I’m thinking 50\50 chance Armstead has surgery and\ or misses regular season snaps due to the injury.

    49er management are notorious liars when it comes to injuries. Remember how Haralson was “working through” a little thing, but a week later was out for the year?

      1. Considering how Grant is our eyes on the field and he embellishes everything, I am fairly sure Armstead is fine.

  8. Grant, I’ve just got to say, aside from the occasional, obvious dig at the 49ers, ie: THE GOOD – “WR DeAndre Hopkins. The best player on the field. The Niners could use a guy like him”, your camp reports are absolutely top notch!

    Insightful, detailed, and descriptive. Keep up the good work!

      1. Grant,

        Refresh my memory did you have Hopkins making the squad? If not how do you see the WR group shaping up at this stage?

        1. EastCoast9er,

          Please tell me that question was a strange attempt at humor, you can’t really be this clueless, can you?

    1. I’ve been intrigued by what has been written about Caldwell all around NorCal since the spring.
      GRANT; Can you describe Campbell’s strengths as you see them? How does he get separation? Speed? Quickness? Good routes? Good release under press pressure? Position? Adjustment to ball in flight? Aggressiveness to the ball?
      Thx

  9. I hope Chip makes the QB decision sooner, rather than later. It seems clear that the more reps our starting QB gets in the next month, the more prepared this offense will be week one!

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blaine found some of his best rhythm of this years training camp vs the Texans today. Repetition has an impact. The more snaps he gets with the 1st string offense, the more efficient this offense will likely be come week one.

  10. Matt Maiocco: “Driskel continues to get work on the 49ers’ punt team as a personal protector for Bradley Pinion. DRISKEL ALSO DEMONSTRATED HIS SPEED AS THE FIRST ONE DOWN THE FIELD TO COVER SOME OF THOSE PUNTS”

    Are you kidding me? Is this kid an athlete or what? Color me intrigued!

    1. It’s pretty stupid to use your supposed QB of the future and possibly the only backup QB they have (if you believe Grant’s injury to Kap cover up conspiracy theory) to cover punts and bock for the punter. He’s going to get killed doing that.

  11. I just watched the Steelers score a Pick-6, and it occurs to me that there is an opportunity after a Pick-6 to go for two point conversion. Think about it.
    You have this pre-programmed into your game plan and you let the players know in advance: After a Pick-6 we go for 2. As soon as the guy scores the offense and OC are running out on the field with a plan.
    The opposing D is slightly discombobulated (Yes! I spelled that right!) thinking WTF? And then they, not the anti-kick team, have to run out on the field and get the call and get set and adjust and…..
    It seems like the Offense might have some advantage in that situation.

      1. Brotha Tuna

        ‘Chip’ used that several times at UofO until the opponents caught on… after once or twice, it doesn’t work…but it still makes the opponent be on guard. ‘Chip’s’ got tricks..

    1. Way to channel your inner Seb there Brotha.

      Seriously though, that’s actually a pretty good suggestion. My only question is if the refs hold the ball since each scoring play has to be reviewed. That would kinda mess up the surprise attack.

    2. BT,

      It’s a great idea.

      The only thing is the surprise feature would diminish over time, as opponents learn from the game tape.

      1. Yeah, but the other team would have to devote attention to be ready for it. There’s the emotional lift that the offense would feel too. It’s just one more wrinkle in when to try for two and keeping an opponent off balance.

  12. Question: Is it worth risking an injury, having Driskel handle personal protection on the punt team? If he has as much potential as my gut tells me he has, and the postseason likely out of reach this season, I am OK carrying 3 QB’s, and keeping him deactivated, and out of harms way!

    I don’t think it’s simply a matter of desperation either. I am intrigued with the way Blaine fits into this offense. And I think there’s still an off-chance Kap gets his act together. However, Jeff Driskel might just be the perfect fit for Chips offense? Call it a gut feeling …… but I think we may have hit pay dirt with this kid.

    1. I believe the team has carried only two QBs on the 53 the last couple of years. This seems to be important to them even with the change in QBs (so is Baalke calling the shots on this?).

      Although he is intriguing, Driskell isn’t ready to play yet (unless there is no choice); but we want to keep on the 53. So this seems like a great way to do it and if CK can’t play, then Driskell can be activated as the number 2. Still as you note, there is risk that he could get hurt, but that’s probably a preferable risk to losing him trying to stash him on the practice squad. They probably already know that they won’t be able to stash him.

      1. Agreed cubus, I would be shocked if he cleared waivers. No question, it makes more sense to carry 3 QB’s if the 3rd stringer can contribute on special teams. Sounds like Driskel is doing more than just contributing on ST. Sounds like he’s excelling!

        If he shines as a QB throughout the preseason, do you still want him running down field, full speed, into a brick wall, playing special teams? I don’t.

  13. I thought the Niners would keep Miller and cut Driskel because they had no room on the 53, but with Kaep having problems with his throwing shoulder, It just seems wise to keep Driskel.

  14. I hope Armstead isn’t injured too badly. He was having a strong training camp and looked ready to have a breakout year.

  15. Jeff Driskel = Cody Pickett.

    We are screwed at QB. Kap’s a basket case and Blaine is flat out garbage.

    3-13 or 4-12 here we come.

    1. Another weak, apples-to-oranges comparison. I have no idea where you how you compare those 2, other than they were both late round picks for the Niners, and both contributed on special teams? Pickett was athletic, but nowhere close to the type of athleticism that Driskel possesses!

      Cody Pickett – 6’3″ 223 lbs, official 40 Yd dash 4.79, broad jump 109″, vertical 30.5″

      Jeff Driskel – 6’4″ 234 lbs: official 40 yd dash 4.53, broad jump 122″, vertical 32″

      Jeff Driskel was rated as the #1 Pro-Style QB coming out of high school by both rivals.com & scout.com. Pickett was a rodeo star (for real).

      Nice comparison B

      1. 49reasons,

        The only thing pathetic are you and Seb’s player analysis. I actually think you are Seb. My roster predictions were nailed, slam dunk locks.

        You and Seb, losers that you are, want to saddle us with your loser picks, so much that I know you are really LA Ram fan, or Jed’s and Parages’s analytic man, paid to find low cost gems.

        Get lost punk.

        1. As for B for Bean Brain,

          Pickett was not trained by 49er dynasty coaches, Tim Rattay was–Walsh and Marriucci.

          So far, he has looked better than all QB’s .

  16. Meh. Driskel will be nothing more than another late round pick who does nothing. Yet our qb starved fan base will latch onto him like he’s the 2nd coming of the right handed version of Steve Young.

    Ranked high coming out of high school? Please.

    Couldn’t care less. He’s a 6th round pick.

  17. With Chip’s hurry-up, and 9er QB’s propensity for 3&outs (in worst performing 3rd tier last year-22nd out of 32 teams) and abysmal 3rd down conversion efficiency (31st out of 32) Gabbs or Kaep…we know what we’re going to get, and 9er D is going to be out there A LOT. My point..all this discussion about Gabb or Kaep is not all that productive, it’s about how the D is gonna survive.

  18. THE BAY AREA TEAM THAT MANY OF US HATE TO LOVE

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the nuts and bolts of Niner football that this blog provides. That is why I spend most of my rare Niner moments here.

    But every once in a while a well seasoned journalist steps back and offers a broad perspective that only a long enduring experience could provide. Such is the case with Lowell Cohn’s article titled “The Bay Area Team Everyone is Talking About”.

    It caught my eye, then enlightened, I carried it with me; like crazy glue, I could not shake it; I would bring it up; to see similar surprise registered on other’s faces (especially among warrior fans); it became a conversation and sometimes debate starter.

    I found it particularly poignant at this time with Eddie D headed into the Hall of Fame. My personal take away is that I, like many other long time fans, are still carrying that Camelot moment with us through these less deserving days. So much so that we troll blogs on the Niners for every last little detail – and all the while that the Warriors are doing amazing things on that much smaller court of local pro sports.

    Yes Eddie D, you gave us that mythical moment, of a wizard, a knight and a king, that has left some of us addicted well beyond those past glorious years. We still need our Niner fix even through these leanest of years. And believe me I and others have tried and continue trying to shift that undivided attention more fully and completely to the more deserving Warriors.

    If you haven’t read Mr Cohn’s article here at the PD, I recommend it and especially to those of you who like me were left with this addiction affliction. Would like to hear other takes on Mr. Cohn’s perspective which for me has a ring of CRAZY truth to it.

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