Colin Kaepernick shines (excecpt on 3rd down), and Jon Baldwin disappears

SANTA CLARA — Here’s what stood out to me during Tuesday’s padded practice.

THE GOOD

1. Colin Kaepernick. His best practice of training camp. He was accurate on the short throws and the long ones for the most part. He finally hit Vance McDonald in stride deep down the middle of the field. Kaepernick had been overthrowing that pass to McDonald since last year’s training camp.

2. Chris Cook. Intercepted a deep throw intended for Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd had beaten Cook by a step, but Josh Johnson underthrew the pass, Cook undercut Lloyd, reached up and caught the ball. Lloyd made no attempt to make the catch.

3. Dontae Johnson. Drew an offensive pass interference penalty on Lloyd during a red-zone drill. Lloyd threw down Johnson in the corner of the end zone.

4. Vance McDonald. Caught a 30-yard pass and a 20-yard pass deep down the middle of the field. That was good. But he also dropped two passes. That was not so good.

5. Michael Crabtree. Caught a touchdown pass from Kaepernick in a red zone drill — Crabtree beat Perrish Cox with an inward breaking route on the play. Later, Crabtree scored a 30-yard touchdown from Kaepernick during a two-minute drill. Crabtree was not covered by anyone —  it was a busted coverage. Crabtree has made at least one touchdown catch every day of training camp.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD 

1. Colin Kaepernick on third down. He had four chances to convert third downs and he converted none: Aldon Smith “sacked” him on third-and-eight, Kaepernick overthrew Stevie Johnson on third-and-six, Kaepernick scrambled for no gain on third-and-four and then he scrambled for no gain once more on third-and-two.

1.  The starting cornerbacks. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver did not practice. Vic Fangio said each guy has a minor leg injury.

2. Jonathan Baldwin. Suited up but did not receive a single target during team drills. Baldwin has been practically invisible during camp — two catches and three drops. A.J. Jenknins never was this bad.

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  1. You do realize Cook can not undercut someone if he’s beat.

    “2. Chris Cook. Intercepted a deep throw intended for Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd had beaten Cook by a step, but Josh Johnson underthrew the pass, Cook undercut Lloyd, reached up and caught the ball. Lloyd made no attempt to make the catch.”

    1. He did practice, and they all looked pretty good, especially Hyde. He broke through to the second level quite a bit during 9 on 9s and 11 on 11s.

  2. Grant,
    I think Barrows mentioned the other day that Baldwin didn’t seem to be practicing with a sense of urgency (almost like he’s dealing with an injury). I know there’s a lot of talent at WR and he’s basically buried on the depth chart, but you figured he would have a little more fire to him. Is that the sense you get as well when watching Baldwin?

      1. Wow. I figured he would try to put forth more of an effort in camp, especially considering there’s likely not a lot of opportunities for him elsewhere. Since he won’t be making the 49ers squad, do you think this is the last we’ve seen of Baldwin in the NFL?

  3. Keep up the good work, Grant. I’m really liking the BAD portion of your reports. All the other writers always focus on the good and predictable action.

  4. Grant how does Crabtree look on the sideline routes outside the numbers?
    We keep hearing how he looks a couple steps quicker but do you see him getting separation faster on the deep routes or is he being used more in the slot?

    1. He’s been effective on the inward and outward breaking routes near the sideline. He’s had slot reps too, but he’s mostly at flanker.

      1. What does he need to do numbers wise to remain a 49er or is it certain he leaves via free agency?

  5. Good to see Dontae Johnson getting praise two days in a row. Grant, what is your early impression of him from what you’ve seen so far?

    1. He has been excellent the past two practices. He gave up just one catch during team drills today — a five-yard catch by Crabtree. I’d like to see Johnson face a fast receiver, a deep threat.

      1. Yeah, I’d be interested to see how he holds up against a shifty WR like Ellington too. His agility and deep speed are his biggest question marks (though he has reasonable straight line speed). Cheers.

  6. I get the feeling the Vance Mac drops are a permanent fixture and won’t be going away any time soon.

    1. That seems to have been his MO in college as well. The question will be if he makes enough positive big plays to out weigh the liability of those drops.

    1. Who among us didn’t know that the trade was just a smokescreen to allow either or both teams to cut their losses if and when they needed to. SF needs to and will. KC may keep AJJ as a #3. KC wins? Fine.
      Given what little I’m reading about Baldwin I’m wondering if he’s mentally quit like T.Mays did. No football coach likes to see a guy put his head down. A youth coach is obligated to turn the kid around. HS & College is obligated to try. NFL is The Wilderness; survival of the fittest.

      1. Yep, sure sounds like he’s already written himself off. In the NFL there is only so much the coaches can do – it is up to the players to motivate themselves to earn a paycheck.

        1. Even if Baldwin were to have a decent TC, the odds of him making the team were still slim to nil.

          The roster will likely carry 5 and maybe 6 WRs.
          Crabtree (lock)

          Boldin (lock)

          S.Johnson (close to lock)

          Patton (will be given more time because of injury last year and some flashes when he came back)

          Ellington (may find his niche as our KO/PR specialist and the team may decide that LMJ is more valuable as a RB vs ST specialist when he comes back)

          Lloyd (maybe, he may force the team to go with 6 WR’s if he continues to have a good TC).

          There was no way that Baldwin is going to make this team with all the talent ahead of him. Same would have been true for A.J. Jenkins if he were still here for that matter.

          1. Agree. With the three acquisitions (Lloyd/SJ/Duke Ellington) Baldwin should have gotten a clue. Hit the weight room or hit the bong? It doesn’t matter that he won’t make this roster, he needed to be thinking past that to getting on the field in PreSeason to put some resume on tape.

      2. Brutha Tuna: SF not KC has already won. They are able to release Baldwin with out taking a cap hit which would not have been possible if the had him on the roster today or had released AJ outright. KC is still sort of obligated to keep AJ on the roster for that very reason. He might at best give the production you can expect from a typical late rounder.

  7. Wow, comparing your blogs to Bill Williamson’s blogs of ESPN is like comparing a 2014 Ferrari to a 1982 Yugo.

    You always have such good insight and description. You make me feel like I was there. And you actually care about what you write and connect with readers individually.

    Keep up the great work, Grant!!!

    1. @ Shemp.. I concur! I made that point yesterday after reading a Williamson article and had several fans respond as if I was a muslim extremist

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