Sore Kaepernick, 49ers prepare for Texans
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick did not throw the football for a second straight day at practice for the San Francisco 49ers as he deals with tightness in his throwing shoulder.
Kaepernick handed the ball off four times in his one team drill and spent the rest of the time shadowing San Francisco's quarterbacks during a joint practice Friday against the Houston Texans in advance of the exhibition opener today.
The extremely limited practice came a day after Kaepernick got a scheduled day off to rest his shoulder as he works his way back from three offseason surgeries that prevented him from practicing during the offseason program.
"I think it's been a buildup," Kaepernick said. "You don't really get the reps of live action and that violent motion when you're practicing in the offseason. I think it's just building my endurance in that area."
The missed time comes in the middle of a quarterback competition between Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. The two had been splitting time with the first-team offense before Gabbert got all the time with the starters the past two days.
Gabbert, who took over as starter from Kaepernick midway through last season, is expected to start today's game although coach Chip Kelly has yet to make an official announcement on his starter.
"When the quarterback is on the field, he's the guy," Gabbert said. "That's how I approach every day, as if I'm the starter. Go out there and put my best foot forward and let my play speak for itself and lead the team."
Kaepernick regretted having to miss practice time, especially the opportunity to go up against another defense. But he knows the larger goal of being healthy for the start of the regular season still remains.
He compared the current tightness in his shoulder to the feeling he had sometimes as a pitcher at the start of the season and said he usually bounces back quickly.
Kaepernick said he plans to play in today's game and also expects to get a start this preseason and time with the first-team offense before Kelly chooses a starting quarterback for the regular season.
"From everything he's told me, we're both getting a fair shot," Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick tried to make the most of the practice on Friday by dropping back behind the quarterback, surveying the defense and figuring out where he would throw the ball if he were the quarterback.
It's not as valuable as taking actual practice snaps but it is still helpful.
"You get a chance to look at the defense live even though you're a little bit further back, not quite in the action," he said. "You still get to see the defense live and their reaction and walk through plays mentally as far as where you want to go with the ball and the adjustments you'll have to make."
Kaepernick did the same during offseason practices and those mental plays have eased his adjustment to a new offense.
"There haven't been a lot of mental mistakes," Kelly said. "A lot of times, guys' ability to transfer things that they've learned in the classroom and then be able to take that out onto the field is a different thing. You can tell how intelligent he was that he was on top of things so when he got in there, he was getting to his third read in his progression even though he had actually never thrown the route, but mentally he had taken himself through that in the springtime."