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May 12, 2013
Kaepernick watches B.J. Daniels shine; Baalke observes Okoye in action


As if B.J. Daniels and Nate Montana weren't under enough pressure ... Midway through Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, a guy wearing a yellow Warriors cap and a white Warriors jersey walked onto the practice field. It was Colin Kaepernick, who hung around to watch most of the session. (The only other veteran observer has been Anthony Davis, whose brother, Andre, is getting a tryout). What did Kaepernick see?

Both quarterbacks have looked sharp at times, albeit in a shells-only, minimum-pass-rush, don't-touch-the-quarterback context. Daniels in particular isn't shy about flinging the ball downfield, and he connected on long downfield passes to receiver Brandon Carswell and tight end H-back MarQueis Gray. Montana connected deep with receiver Greg Wilson.

Daniels has a quicker release than Montana and is much more active in the pocket. Like Kaepernick, he also is comfortable running with the ball, and he had two long runs around the right side with Kaepernick observing from the sideline.

As you would expect at this type of camp, there were highlights and lowlights for every player on Saturday. Montana, for example, was late or off target on a few throws. With none of his deep receivers open, he checked down to running back Isi Sofele, who was 10 yards away. The pass, however, may have been too hard, and it went through Sofele's hands and was intercepted by inside linebacker Nate Stupar. Stupar will compete this summer with Dan Skuta, Michael Wilhoite and draft pick Nick Moody for one of the backup roles behind Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

Carswell also dropped two straight passes early in the session as did Gray, who got up angrily after each drop. Gray, who played both quarterback and wide receiver at Minnesota, is a gifted athlete but will be a project for the 49ers. The questions will be, A.) How quickly he can pick up his new position? and B.) How patient can the 49ers afford to be?

The one-on-one blocking drills between the offensive and defensive lines drew the attention of general manager Trent Baalke. As you would expect, newcomer (to the sport of football) Lawrence Okoye easily was handled by the offensive linemen, mostly Al Netter, who is playing center in this camp.

What's already evident is that Okoye has a gift for getting off the line of scrimmage quickly. That is, the explosion needed by a discus thrower translates to bursting off the line of scrimmage as a defensive lineman. He also tried a spin move that was absurdly good for someone his size who just began practicing football on Friday. What also stands out, however, is that Okoye has long - very long - legs. In fact, the only 49er who can compare in leg length is Alex Boone. The challenge for Okoye and mentor Jim Tomsula will be combining his quickness and innate athletic ability with an understanding of leverage.

Netter and Sherman Carter have been playing center. Carter and Daniels had a botched exchange on one play that resulted in a fumble. Coaches called for the play to be run again. The result: Another botched snap between the two.

The catch of the day was turned in by tight end Shawn Power, who made a stumbling diving snag along the sideline on a throw from Daniels. Cornerback Darryl Morris made one of the best defensive plays by knocking away a deep sideline pass from Daniels to wide receiver Wilson. If you want to see Morris' speed, scroll to the 4:15 mark of the video below.

Andre Davis - Anthony Davis' older brother - was a 295-pound defensive lineman at Kentucky Christian. However, he got some snaps at offensive line and tight end on Saturday.

-- Matt 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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