49ers training camp report, Day 2: Gabbert starts and struggles while Kaepernick shines with the backups

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me during the second day of training camp.


1. CB Jimmie Ward. Picked off a Blaine-Gabbert pass intended for Bruce Ellington on third-and-three and returned the interception for a touchdown. “I just disguised my coverage,” Ward said after practice. “We were in man-free, and I kind of confused the quarterback. Then I ended up jumping outside to my leverage I was supposed to have and I knew where my help was. And he ended up throwing me the ball, and I just made a play on it…That was a correction from yesterday. I got beat on that route the first day. It was an option route from the slot. So we went in (the) film (room), he told me what to do and we made corrections.”

2. DE DeForest Buckner. Joined the starting lineup for the first time this offseason and played both left and right defensive end in the 49ers’ base defense. He seems like a lock to start until Glenn Dorsey returns.

3. DE Arik Armstead. The best player on the field today. Recorded at least three tackles for loss during 11-on-11s, including once when he broke into the backfield so quickly he smacked the ball out of Carlos Hyde’s hands before Hyde had taken a single step.

4. WR DeAndre Smelter. Played split end and made three catches during team drills. First, he beat Jimmie Ward with a quick slant. Then, he beat Kenneth Acker with a quick slant. And then he caught a tunnel screen pass thrown by Colin Kaepernick. By the end of practice, Smelter was playing with the starters. He seems to be Quinton Patton’s primary competition for the starting split-end job.

5. WR DeAndrew White. The slot receiver for the second-team offense. White beat nickel back Chris Davis twice with option routes on third down – once on third-and-3, and once on third-7. Both passes were thrown by Kaepernick. He and White seem to have chemistry.

6. QB Colin Kaepernick. Threw no interceptions and completed 16 of 20 passes, although just six of those passes came when he was playing with the starters. Kaepernick mostly played with the backups and seemed much more prepared and confident than yesterday even though he didn’t attempt a deep pass. Kaepernick mostly dinked and dunked while reading one side of the field.


1. QB Blaine Gabbert. First, the good. Threw 20 of his 23 passes while playing with the starters and launched a perfect deep pass down the left side line to Jerome Simpson who caught the ball in the end zone. This was the best pass of the day. Now, the not so good. Gabbert threw one pick and completed just 14 of 23 passes during team drills. On third down, he completed only one pass and threw short of the first-down marker three times even though it was a 7-on-7 drill and there was no pass rush. At least he practices the way he plays.

This article has 136 Comments

  1. Thanks Grant…. is AD still running with the 3’s?

    How’s Rogers looking?

    How’s Dorsey looking in drills, you think he’ll be ready week 1?

    1. Having Kap read 1/2 the football field is what you do with rookies, before building their confidence to read a whole field. The fact that it’s occurring with 2nd stringers means that Kap’s lost valuable time with 1st string reps (Like they say, “timing is everything” and so it is in the NFL).

      1. Keep in mind, although September is a month away, Kap has in reality until the 14th when the Texans arrive.

        It’s going to be difficult trying to progress from reading 1/2 the field to overtake Gabbert’s job….Look for Kap to make a move by mid season

        1. I have noticed your displeasure with Kaep. Just say you want Gabbert and stop complaining about what Kaep can’t do.

          1. “I have noticed your displeasure”

            Just so you know “Displeasure is what the “D” in TomD stands for….so don’t waste your time.

        2. @tomD
          Why you choosing gabbert over kaep, kaep is the one that can actually make it to the playoffs gabbert has more losses than wins in his career

          1. Kaep is the one handed a super bowl team and he regressed with that coaching and talent.

            You have no way to show he is capable of anything other than going along for rides…or does 2-6 not ring a bell?

            1. Lol, 2-6 let’s work out some facts for you. 1. Kaep had three off season surgeries indicating he played thru some pain. 2. He had better stats than Andrew, Payton, Russell, and Newton. 3. His offensive line was a mess gabbert had the same o line yes, but they had 8 games by that time and still looke awful. Anthony Davis retired, Alex Boone sat for a second pre season with a new head coach, Mike iupati was on the cardinals, killgore never played a snap cmon now. Also Trent Brown started the second half of the season and it was a major upgrade.

            2. That same team took over couldn’t get over the hump until he took the reins. Alex smith had 2 chances at it

        3. And Gab still cannot throw for a first down – with no pass rush!! You got a bromace going with him? Why don”t you

      2. Actually I have a couple copies of Bill Walsh playbooks from the 1980s, and on a great deal many concepts half the field is eliminated by a pre-snap read, and the progression stays on that half of the field. So Joe Montana was doing this.

  2. Thanks again Grant. Great to hear the slot receivers are running option routes. Knew it was part of Kelly’s offense, but still nice to have it confirmed.

    Also great to hear Smelter has looked ok the first two days of camp.

    Is Armstead the 49ers best player?

  3. Nice to see Ward making a play.

    You can’t really tell how the DL are faring until pads come on, but anything positive about the twin towers is welcome news. We will be relying on them big time once the season starts.

    Really great news on Smelter. With his size and athleticism, he could be a potential replacement for Boldin eventually. Just has to stay healthy and keep getting his snaps. He really didn’t get a ton of opportunities in College with the triple option.

    Good to see Kap improving on what he did yesterday. It’s going to take some time after not playing for so long but hopefully the improvements continue.

  4. Are really debating grabbert vs kap? This is pathetic.. Our only hope is if kap takes to chip and his offence

    1. Kap didn’t do nothing last year or the year before! Gabbert came in with confidence and with the same weak OL and gave the NINERS a win that we FANS wer waiting for! So start Gabbert!! Just as fast and younger! Kap has a lot of work to do before he should start.

  5. Hey Grant:

    Good post. I disagree with you about DeForest Buckner locking the starting spot until Dorsey comes back. If DeForest continues to ascend, you don’t sit the 7th overall draft pick for a guy (Dorsey) who does not provide any passrush whatsoever. Dorsey might be good against the run, but that is it. Looking back on the base 2015 defense and there was no pressure like 95% of the time from the staring linemen – Dorsey, Williams, and Dial.

    Looks like Armstead is taking control of the strongside DE, and I believe by the time camp is over DeForest will be the other DE. DeForest is too talented to sit – and what I like about him the most is high motor and instincts, and all his pashrush moves. DeForest might not be the strongest DE right now, but that will come with time.

    1. Dorsey will end up playing NT since we’ve lost Williams for the season. If he comes back healthy.

  6. Two days into camp, it looks like a relatively even competition between the two.

    By Niners wire

      1. Thanks,

        Can’t wait to see how option routes work, Razor. Seem to remember one of the hallmarks of Kelly’s quick tempo are turnovers, esp. when the WR and QB read different things…And if Ward’s already disguising coverages and jumping coverages after reviewing yesterdays practice film, what’s the rest of the NFL going to do?

        1. Could it be that Wards just finally developing into the player he was predicted to be?

          1. Yes, lots of chatter about that…The fact that the DC, Oneil and Ward reviewed yesterdays practice film and jumped that route is foreboding.

            1. What does it also say that had he not made a big cut that the play would have been a TD for the offense? I’ll take the odds that most defenses won’t be making that int and that’ll be a td.

              1. That’s not what happened. Read my reply to your other post. What the reporters are saying is Ward would have scored an easy TD on the INT.

          2. Ward is a playmaker, and this defense needs to provide short field opportunities for the offense….

          3. Ward came along quite nicely his first two seasons, even if most fans don’t want to believe it. This should be the year he matures into a consistently good player.

      1. Bet.
        And after I take your money I’ll buy you a #2 Gabbert jersey. (Which nobody owns).

  7. I like to hearing about the number one draft pick(s) doing well on defense. Tomorrow the pads go on, time for the real work to begin.

    1. “The INT would have been a td had it not been for Wards play”.

      I think you may have misinterpreted what Barrows wrote (or expressed what you meant in a confusing way). He is saying Ward would have scored an easy TD on the INT. Not that the pass would have been a TD to Ellington “had it not been for Ward’s play”.

      1. That’s a very strange way of writing it…

        “The INT would have been a TD had it not been for Ward’s play” indicates that ward made a great play on a would be offensive TD.

        Saying it the other way would indicate Ward made a mistake that stopped a defensive td.

        In any case the it was either a bad throw or decision my Gabbert.

  8. Best news from this is the performance of Buckner and Armstead. If they can do their thing upfront the rest of the D will come along nicely.

    Have always thought Ward’s performance was better than the perception so it’s good to see that he played well today.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. Both B&A are going to be important components to building a competent, competitive and hopefully dominant defense. Always felt that people were way too harsh on Eard and that he was a good player that needed time to develop. Glad to see he is starting to reach his potential.

        1. Armstead and Buckner – Assault & Battery. This group with either Dorsey or Dial at NT will be hard to handle for most OLs – and will no doubt open up big plays for Bowman and Company.

    1. Ward had to deal with the foot problem even into last year. Now he’s healthy and hopefully ready to become a solid CB for us.

      As far as perception, some still can’t get over the Bears game from his rookie year. He really didn’t play that badly overall.

  9. Lol lame Gabbert over Kaep, knock it off if the 9ers want results go with Kaep. Gabbert is a good backup though. Drafted high and couldn’t grasp the league until now. Get real all you Kaepernick haters.

  10. Yeah, but Gabbert still leads in the critical MF statistic (more friends),

    It is hard to get excited about any of this. Smelter, Dwhite, Buckner – blah blah
    and then we play the Cards and lose 30-3.

    1. Sorry, the QB job is not won with a popularity contest. If Kaep has returned to his old (2012) self, he will reclaim the starting job.

      1. That’s right. You don’t have to like him, just do your job or pack your bags….

  11. just curious if mike purcell bulked up and added strength, he got pushed around at times during the season but seemed to settle in during the end. he’ll be in the mix till dorsey can play right?

    1. His game is as a penetrator. I last saw him listed at 305. Not sure how he’ll hold up as a Kong. A penetrating NG has a precedent, but other SF NG’s aren’t penetrators.
      Remember, if ILBs aren’t vitally important going forward (per Trent Baalke after not drafting one): then NG’s are limited in importance also.
      I’m not sure that SF D is phuqued; can’t guanarntee it’s not.

      1. A NT is crucial in the 3 – 4 scheme. As you stated the importance of LBS, a NT is just as critical as they are required to hold double teams and occupy OL without losing ground

  12. Grant, were there deep plays for CK or did he just throw to the short and mid range routes? How did A Davis fair? What about OLB’s and ILB competition? How are the TE’s shaping up and Miller? When’s the first padded practice?

      1. Thanks, that’s exciting to see how the OL and DL measure up in pads. Plus the WR’s and DB’s as well.

  13. I’m happy to hear the positive reports on Armstead and Buckner. They may become the anchor that our defense builds around much similar to what we had with Willis and Bowman.

    For the first time in a while, I’m looking forward on watching the defense – more so than then offense.

    Nice to hear Smelter making a little noise as well. He has the physical attributes that fits Kelly’ Kaotic system.

    As far as Blaine vs Kap, I still have Gab as the starter in September, but also see Kap getting a fair share of the snaps.

    I will be an interesting on many levels.

    1. From all the reports that Gabbert was so far ahead in the competition you’d think his play would be substantially better than CK. To this point he’s on par with a rusty player returning from injury. I expected a greater gap in the two at least for the first week or two. So far Gabbert hasn’t shown that he’s a clear cut starter.

      1. W73,
        I would like to believe that as well (because I like CK), but the QB competition seems to change from day to day.

        I don’t believe that any one of these guys will win the starting role in a dominating way that leaves no doubts. Gab and Kap will go nose to nose with one of them edging out the other.
        But again, I see both QB’s playing in all 16 games. Kelly will utilize Gab’ passing and Kap’ running according to the teams they play.

        1. Not sure about that AES. I can’t see Chip using a 2 QB system. Their passing is pretty equal after 2 days. We haven’t heard a thing about QB’s running from anyone. They may both play but only after one of them is injured. I thought I’d hate the Competition but it’s making camp fun for me. We still have a lot of TC to go and I enjoying the real competition.

          1. Kelly did say yesterday that he used two QBs during his time with the Eagles. I don’t know much about the history of the Eagles when Kelly was there. I assume that was because one of the QBs got hurt or played poorly and was replaced. In today’s NFL that would make more sense.

            But he made it sound as though he is fully expecting to use 2 QBs this season.

              1. Read the article, its not in the cards. Vick got hurt, Foles got hurt and that’s why he used two QB’s. He didn’t use Vick to run and Foles to pass. I don’t think there’s much difference between CK and BG’s passing. There’s not much difference between their running either. You’re welcome to your ideas no matter how improbable. Is there a chance, maybe, but Chip’s comments are around having used 2 QB’s due to injury not based on which team or skillset is needed.

  14. I hope DeAndrew White and DuJuan Harris claim the punt returner and kickoff returner roles so Ellington can concentrate on being a receiver.

    I am very happy that Smelter is practicing. He will make the run game potent with his blocking.

    They say Buckner is built like a brick out house. I want to nickname him Bones, after Deforest Kelly, a TV medical officer.

    Grant, once again, I felt like I was standing on the side lines. Keep up the good work.

  15. As usual I will promise myself I will under-react to OTA, TC reports and preseason performances. I didn’t worry about Smelter’s quite OTA season, and I won’t rejoice about his nice day today.

    (Naturally I will break this promise several times before game one)

    But I’ve been starving for some some good Smelter news. The quick slant seems like an ideal route for him. He didn’t get alot of balls thrown his way in college because of the offense, but he had strong post catch moves. I think that compliments the slant route nicely.

    1. Yes, it is an over-reaction to just one day of practice, but I’m calling it now – he’ll be the starting WR opposite Smith. :-)

      But quite honestly, if he is fully fit and the WR I thought he could be out of college, then I do think he will win the job. Fingers crossed he is and can remain fully fit!

      1. I agree, Smelter will start soon enough. I also think, even though we havent heard much from him so far, that Eric Rogers will make waves this preseason, to the point that he will be touted as our breakout, star WR – until regular season starts, where I think he’ll do well with some big plays but will be mostly overshadowed by Smith and Ellington and Smelter.

        1. Patton is complete garbage. He has had too much time to take a role in this offense and has survived cuts each year because an inept GM couldn’t field competent receivers.

      2. Pretty sure I called it last year. I checked and the statue of limitations hasn’t run out.

            1. Phew, saved myself a little humiliation this morning. That’ll have to wait until I go out in public.

      3. Scooter – I hope you are right. I’d love to see Smelter opposite Smith. Ellington in the slot. It would be the classic speed + possession + quick.

        Smelter’s blocking was outstanding in college. He would be a big asset.

  16. We know what gabs will b, even at his best. Nobody knows what chips o can be with a focused kaep….a nightmare is what a rival nfc west d coordinator said awhile bk. Personally I think this is a match made in heaven, Sf will be 6-2 before the league realizes the niners r again a force to be reckoned with.

  17. All qb play at this point should be taken with a grain of salt… there will be ups and downs at this stage… especially now that players are running option routes. This was something Harbaugh did not do and Im not certain if Tomsula’s staff did either but I would doubt it.

    Personally, I look forward to the reports from joint practices later on as this will give more info to go on.

      1. After averaging the 6th ranked offense over 3 seasons Chip proved that the negative side of being slightly predictable on offense can be offset by running the plays at a fast enough pace that the defense is also equally predictable and basic. Also, when you’re gassed and sucking wind it doesn’t matter if you know the what the play is because you’re too tired to do anything about it.

          1. TomD August 2, 2016 at 10:48 am
            He was out of work for a reason
            Yes but it wasn’t because his offense was predictable.

              1. I couldn’t find the article date but the first comment says it was 10 months ago. They finished the month of October with an average points per game that had them in the top third of the league at the time but yet this author considers that “failing.”

                By the way even though the offense was predictable and everyone was writing articles about it the Eagles still finished the year ranked 12th in yards per game, 13th in points per game

                If this is failing on offense then why can’t we fail like that?

              2. This team didn’t even come close to that last year! 32nd in yards and 31st in points moving up to 12 and 13 would be a gargantuan improvement!

  18. anything on Eli Harold? With Lynch suspended, Tank and CL looking like busts would love to hear that Eli is doing something good

  19. Joe Fann
    Finally, is Devon Cajuste a WR or a TE? David Shaw told me it doesn’t matter:

    Don’t worry about Caujuste. Whether he’s outside, inside, or in a H-back role. He taller, bigger and faster than you think..a gifted athlete, so when the ball goes up, he goes and gets it…David Shaw on Devon Cajusted

  20. Hmm,

    A direct challenge by Seb. Try as I might to turn the other cheek, it doesn’t seem to work.
    Posting Seb’s travails in the Twilight Zone about the “Obsolete Man” had no effect…I must assume that he’s slow learned. So I’ll post this from the Murph and Mac Show to demonstrate it really does not matter who QB’s this team, because the eventual captain, is captaining the Titanic…2-14 49ers this year, Seb…then you and Kap can look for work elsewhere!!!


    1. Thank you for setting this up again, CfC. I am not very good at picking teams, but I have enjoyed it each year.

  21. Glad to see Smelter making strides. Always knew the kid could play. That’s why I was happy the team picked him up.

  22. And what about the Eagles bread and butter standard inside zone play that they rep a 1000 times a season in practice? Here’s Allen Barbre with a very simple assignment, yet he completely blows it. The yellow lines in the gif below show the blocking assignments on the inside zone read. Basic rule of thumb, you block to the play side if you are uncovered. #55 blitzes the A gap and is absolutely Allen Barbre’s responsibility, after some initial hesitation he just lets him go free into the backfield: Above Source.

    Look for NFL Defenses to do this ALLL YEEEAAR LLLong !!!

  23. Where Did it All Go Wrong? The Rise and Fall of Chip Kelly (Above ChipWagon Source)

    Since I began writing this piece several weeks ago, a lot has happened. Chip Kelly is now the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. One of the immediate observations from that is the questionable front office management structure. Chip Kelly came to the Philadelphia Eagles into what appeared to be a very solid front office structure.

    I believe Chip can overcome this, however if he can’t turn Colin Kaepernick’s career around (and note the 49ers brass seemed ready to give up on him) it might be the final death knell in Chip Kelly’s head coaching career in the NFL.

    Perhaps Chip had no other options as it appears the 49ers were the only NFL team with a vacancy that appeared to pursue him…

  24. Watching Fitzpatrick of the Jets interview and he looks like Lon Chaney’s Wolfman character, LOL.

  25. It’s a slow day at work, so I’m following Sakamoto’s tweets. Looks like Kap is struggling big time today with at least one interception and multiple passes sailing out of bounds. Gabbert apparently threw a 40-yd TD strike to Torrey with Jimmy Ward in coverage.

    1. Seems like BG is good for one good bomb every practice, then so-so the rest of it….that’s my take at least

  26. Get ready for another switch in the lead on the QB competition. Sakomoto reports and INT from CK and two passes out of bounds while BG throws a TD to Smith for 40yds.

  27. “Blaine Gabbert looking pretty sharp in 11-on-11s, hit Torrey Smith for a 50-yard TD on Jimmie Ward. Colin Kaepernick looks shaky today”

    1. These daily reports are going to drive us all crazy. It’s the roller coaster of TC.

      1. Razor

        Luckily, you can cross a few streets, and pay a visit to the central chapel at Notre Dame….it should help…also a novena for Ian Williams….

        1. The 49ers and the Golden Domers have a long history, my friend. I would remind you Mr. DeBartolo owns the UP Mall in Mishawaka too…; > )

    2. Cam Inman @CamInman
      #49ers first padded practice goes 2:15 hours.
      QB Watch:
      Gabbert 6/12, 3 in a row batted down
      Kaepernick 7/11, nice 20-yarder to White

      So right Jack, driving us crazy.

      1. Are these guys even watching the same practice?

        Chris Biderman @ChrisBiderman
        Day three of #49ers camp and Colin Kaepernick played considerably better than Blaine Gabbert.

        1. Really need to read all of the reports. I would expect the Matts to probably be the most even-handed with their TC reports.

  28. Everyone agrees that the new stadium is far worse—not slightly inconvenient, not marginally less fun—far worse than Candlestick Park. They can’t even practice there because the turf is too dangerous to play football on and that’s like the 25th most objectionable thing about it. Levi’s stadium is so awful that season ticketholder with PSLs are straight up refusing to pay for their tickets, which means that Jed York may have to sue his own season ticketholders to get them to go to games.

    Still trust in York and Baalke??

  29. Looks like the Honey Badger got a major new deal. From Schefter:

    Cardinals and S Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu reached agreement on 5-year, $62.5 million agreement that includes $40M gtd, per sources.

  30. After months of speculation, argumentation and solo postulation with frequent pontification we get to talk real football!! The rookies compete for spots and the veterans show their stuff. We get to argue about what it all means. Isn’t it grand?!

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