Kaepernick returns to action for 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick was cleared for individual work and took on-field reps Tuesday for the first time since undergoing multiple offseason surgeries.
The 28-year-old quarterback joined the rest of his 49ers teammates for a two-hour practice and took part in almost every session except for team scrimmages. He did some light throwing early during position drills then later engineered two drives during a 7-on-7 session.
Kaepernick showed some rust early in the workout, which was expected after he was limited the entire offseason following surgeries on his left shoulder, knee and right thumb.
"He's practicing," coach Chip Kelly said. "You're not going to go from not practicing to full practice. I don't think anybody ever does that, so you're going to bring him along gradually. He'll start to do more individual drills and start throwing to receivers, tight ends and the running backs. It's just a natural progression that he's doing."
The 49ers have taken a cautious approach with Kaepernick's rehabilitation this offseason but plan to ramp things up slightly now that he's been given partial clearance to practice.
Just where Kaepernick fits in remains uncertain following an offseason during which he asked for and was granted permission to seek a trade. At one point it appeared he might be headed to Denver but the much-hyped pre-draft deal with the Broncos never materialized.
It's possible that Kaepernick could still be traded before training camp opens next month. For now, his biggest hurdle is trying to catch up to the rest of the offense while learning Kelly's high-speed system.
Kaepernick did not talk to reporters Tuesday but is expected to address the media later this week.
Blaine Gabbert, who started the final eight games in 2015 after Kaepernick was injured, continues to take all the reps with the 49ers' first team offense.
"I think he (Kaepernick) did fine," Gabbert said. "He threw the ball well. We're just all focused on getting better every day and he's doing the same thing."
Kaepernick stayed busy before getting cleared.
During OTA workouts, Kaepernick stood behind the offense and would mimic the play being run while working on his dropbacks and reads. He continued to do that on the first day of the 49ers' mandatory minicamp when he wasn't taking part in drills.
"I'm sure he'll say that he's rusty and he wants to continue to work but it's just cool to see him out there, helmet on, and getting at it," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "He completed some passes. He made a few tough throws in some tight windows. I wouldn't say it was a bad first day at all."