49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

July 24, 2012
Faster feet: Kaepernick focusing on footwork as camp approaches

KaepHarbs.jpg

The 49er with the strongest arm is concentrating on his feet.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick today said that footwork is his biggest focus as the 49ers prepare to open training camp later this week. Kaepernick is at the center of one of the more intriguing camp battles on the largely settled 49ers roster as he tries to fend off Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien to be the chief backup to Alex Smith.

"I just want to keep working on my feet, getting my feet (together) quicker, getting through reads quicker," Kaepernick said. "Just taking pressure off the offensive line and getting the ball out of my hands."

While most veterans don't report until Thursday, the 49ers quarterbacks, rookies and a few other selected veterans are permitted to get a head start this week. All four of the quarterbacks have reported, and they've been throwing to rookie wideouts A.J. Jenkins, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms.

Tight ends Delanie Walker, Konrad Reuland, Brent Garrett Celek and Kyle Nelson also are getting a head start this week. Walker was able to report early because he missed some of the spring practices with a minor injury. Reuland qualifies because he was on the practice squad last year.

And even if a player is not permitted to report early, he still might be able to catch a few passes at one of the local parks.

Kaepernick said that new offseason rules prevented him from throwing passes to his teammates during workouts at team headquarters in Santa Clara. So they would merely retire to a park a mile or so from the practice facility.

Kaepernick declined to identify his targets during those park outings, but second-round pick LaMichael James likely took part. James dropped by Kaepernick's place regularly during the offseason where the two would go over the playbook. James missed most of the offseason practices because classes at the University of Oregon were still in session.

"We'll go over things here and there," Kaepernick said. "He's a great athlete. He has a lot of talent, a lot of tools that we could use. So that's someone that we want to make sure we have ready for the season."

Meanwhile, this isn't the first time Kaepernick and Johnson have been on the field together. Both are former pupils of Bay Area quarterback guru Roger Theder, and they would study under Theder on the weekends when they were in high school. Johnson is from Oakland; Kaepernick is from Turlock.

"Josh is a great guy," Kaepernick said. "I'm good friends with him. But at the same time we know it's a competition when we step on the field."

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Good news on the 49ers injury front: Seventh-round pick Cam Johnson was in uniform today, practiced and did some extra rehab work following the session. Johnson, an outside linebacker, had a minor procedure - believed to be on his knee - in June. His health is notable because the team's other rookie OLB, Darius Fleming, has a torn ACL and is unlikely to play this season.

According to Johnson's college coach, Virginia's Mike London, Johnson battled through a knee injury last season that affected his play. His tackle total fell from 54 as a junior to 30 last season and his sacks went from 6.5 to four. If the recent procedure returns Johnson to his junior-year form, the 49ers will have made a nice pick up at the end of the draft.

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The 49ers hired a familiar face to their personnel department recently in Mike Williams. Williams spent nine years in San Francisco before being hired by the Rams in 2009. He was let go earlier this year after former GM Billy Devaney was replaced by Les Snead.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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